How often have you watched TV while using your laptop? Have you ever used your PC while keeping an eye on the TV in the same room? If you’ve done either, you’re like an increasing number of consumers who are multi-tasking in the new media world.
In many previous posts, I’ve talked about how cross-platform media exposure works. More specifically, it’s becoming increasingly clear that TV plus On-Line exposure is more impactful than either individually. And the same “1+1=3” phenom is almost certainly true across other media combinations.
What’s next in cross-media understanding? One potential area is “simultaneous exposure,” or exposing consumers to two different media at the same time–like working on your laptop while you watch the latest episode of Two and a Half Men. In theory, this should have an even larger impact than the same message in multiple media platforms over time.
What We Know About Simultaneous Media Usage
With the advent of single source viewing measurement, the clouds are clearing and we now have a much better understanding of how consumers are using media across the 3 screens. And the reality sure isn’t “cord-cutting. ” From this viewing data, we know that:
- ~40% of HH’s watch both TV and Internet at the same time at least once a month
- Simultaneous viewing is highest among the oldest groups—35-49 year olds and 50+
- Simultaneous viewership of TV and internet grew 25 minutes per week year over year
So, we increasingly see the convergence of TV and Web viewing–although there isn’t yet much evidence of people switching off their cable or satellite connections to switch on to web based TV. However, the viewing experience and TV/Web overlap is quite different depending on your starting point. For example:
- Among TV viewers, 4% of people are also on their PC’s at any given time
- 40% of Internet viewing is done while people are also watching TV
This means that there is a lot more clutter around when people are on their PC’s than when they are watching TV. It also means that when you advertise on-line, there’s a pretty good chance that your consumers are also watching TV. The question then, is this – can you take advantage of this dual TV/Web usage?
What TV and Web Content Are Consumers Watching Simultaneously?
An obvious thought here is that consumers are likely consuming like content across the screens at the same time. That is, if I’m watching American Idol on TV, then I’m probably also consuming American Idol content on-line—at the same time. This would certainly present unique opportunities for advertisers to leverage common cross-platform content and perhaps achieve even greater synergy across the mediums. So, what are people watching at the same time?
The answer, interestingly, is not what you might think. The reality is that consumer viewing behavior isn’t different at all due to simultaneous viewership. Said differently, consumers watch TV and On-Line in the same way–whether they are watching simultaneously or not. So, if I’m watching American Idol on TV, I’m most likely to be doing the same things I would normally do on-line—like checking e-mail, perusing Facebook, or watching YouTube videos—versus viewing American Idol related content on-line.
What Does This Mean for Marketers ?
Simultaneous cross-platform TV and Web viewership is increasing. A significant amount of on-line PC content is consumed with the traditional TV on at the same time. The mediums are becoming increasingly intertwined—but they are not producing parallel content consumption.
This means the following:
1. Advertising break-thru is more important than ever — Brands need to focus more than ever on outstanding creative that cuts thru the increasingly cluttered world of media. Consumers are more distracted than ever with media multi-tasking. Because of this, brands need to understand how engaged consumers are with programming; consumer attentiveness to programming, and the ads in those programs, is more important than ever.
2. There are more opportunities to drive simultaneous messaging — It’s true that consumers aren’t generally consuming common content as they use TV and the Web simultaneously. However, there’s still an interesting opportunity for brands to leverage simultaneous media usage across platforms. Think about the traditional TV mujlti-network “roadblock” applied across both TV and Web.
3. Digital creative needs to link more closely to its TV counterpart. The fact that 40% of PC based web content consumption is done with the TV on means that brands need to work harder to have their digital creative connect to and work in tandem with their TV advertising.
Consumer Insights to Media Insights
In my days as a Brand Manager, we worshipped at the alter of the great “consumer insight.” These insights were almost always about how, why and where consumers used, thought and felt about their brands.
Sitting here, working on this post on my laptop–and watching the TV out of the corner of my eye, it seems clear that in the future, a new kind of consumer insight will become increasingly important–media insights. And within the world of media insights, media multi-tasking is one of the more interesting areas to watch.