The 30-Hour-A-Day Consumer.


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If it seems like you’re cramming more into a 24-hour day than ever, you could be on to something.


“Multi-tasking” is a concept that’s taken over much of our lives. And now, it appears, that extends to our media habits as well. A new study released by IAB and Ipsos based on interviews with 7,500 connected consumers (view the slide presentation here) reveals that the time the average American spends consuming media isn’t the 6.1 hours we once thought; it’s actually more than 9.5 hours (nearly a 57% increase).

What accounts for these additional hours? While the time spent with “traditional” media has been steadily rising or holding steady, the bulk of the incremental time consumers spend with media can be attributed to “media multi-tasking”–simultaneously spending time with two or more media at once.

What’s this look like? According to the study, fully two thirds (66%) of study participants reported that they used another device (most often a smartphone) the last time they watched TV. That means two thirds of the people watching your 30 second spot on “American Idol” are also engaged in a “second screen,” either being social with others about what they are viewing, or checking emails, IM chatting, shopping for shoes, surfing Craigslist or posting on Facebook.

The question for marketers is, is this emergence of the “media multi-tasker” a benefit or an obstacle?

Not to waffle, but it could be both. On the one hand, a majority of 18- to 24-year-olds in the study — nearly three quarters (73%) — agreed with the statement, “It’s great to be able to talk about what’s on TV with friends or family who aren’t in the same room with you.” This points to the opportunity to use complementary media to “enrich” a viewer’s experience, rather than competing for attention.

New media gurus have been predicting the emergence of “social TV” for a while now, and the “two screen consumer” is bringing this to life. And as it grows, the deeper engagement that’s possible with social and online media to fill out a consumer’s experience provides unprecedented opportunities to participate, share and discover.

Now for the glass-is-half-empty argument. While no doubt consumers believe they are paying attention to what they’re watching on TV, this flies in the face of what behavioral psychologists have discovered about how the human brain works. True “multitasking” as we traditionally have defined it is a misnomer; the human brain operates as a “sequential processor'” which is a fancy way of saying we’re technically incapable of paying significant attention to two tasks at once. Clinical research has shown that multi-tasking measurably reduces productivity and information retention, and increases the frequency of mistakes.

So even though consumers are spending more time with media, their attention to your marketing messages is far from guaranteed.

So what should we do to capitalize on “social TV?” The second screens are in use; it’s up to we marketers to come up with compelling reasons to use them to enrich brand experiences. Contests, hidden content and crowd-sourcing opportunities are a few of the ways marketers can leverage and add horsepower to their mass media marketing messages. The key is to plan the “engagement path” upfront, and not treat social and online components as “bolt-ons.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the seven other tasks I’m working on…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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