More Time With Media Means Less Patience For Ads

Consumers are increasing their total media intake by embracing new options and technologies—mostly the Internet—without cutting back on time spent with traditional media, according to a just-completed media engagement study from OMD.

Subsequently, media consumption now takes up more of our daily time—nine hours on average—than sleep (6.8 hours) or work (7.5 hours), according to the study. While this may sound like good news for marketers in search of eyeballs, the study suggests one of the key challenges of the increasingly personalized media environment is how to market to people without angering them for interrupting their private time.

The second-most-cited complaint by the 2,500 consumers interviewed for the study is the growing number of unwanted interruptions, with 30 percent of respondents listing this. (The top complaint: deteriorating personal interactions.)

“We have not yet found the key to really communicating in these new platforms,” said Page Thompson, CEO of OMD North America. “People do not want traditional forms of advertising on their cell phones, PDA or even on the Internet, and that’s a huge challenge for everyone.”

The study is also significant, said Thompson, because it underscores the need to move from an advertising marketplace that is based on impressions and demographics to one that is based on behavior and engagement. That point is illustrated by the finding that multitasking is far more prevalent than previously thought. On average, U.S. adults say they now do an average of three additional activities while they surf the net and 2.5 while watching TV.

“We knew it was heavier with younger people,” said Thompson, “but now even the adults” claim to cram 39 hours of activity into each day by multitasking.

With that kind of consumption, said Thompson, “the key element becomes the type of engagement they have with each media. And how do you become more relevant with the primary media they are consuming, and what is the connection between the two?”

The study also found that consumers have been surprisingly slow to adopt many of the new media devices, such as MP3 players, personal organizers and other handheld units.

While TV is still the most dominant medium in terms of usage (97 percent of the respondents reported watching TV), only 15 percent or fewer said they have recently watched high-definition TV, used a DVR or watched TV via their computer or a handheld device.

But there is significant near-term growth potential for both HDTV and DVRs. Some 26 percent said they have an interest in using a DVR within the next 12 months; 28 percent want to watch HDTV within that time.

Less interest was indicated for video downloads to smaller screens such as cell phones, video iPods and other handheld units. Only 6 percent said they do so now, about the same amount who said they’d have an interest in doing so within the next year.

Interest in video-on-demand falls somewhere in between, with 16 percent saying they have an interest in watching VOD programming in the next year, versus the 12 percent who say they have already watched VOD shows.

And the survey underscores how ubiquitous the Internet has become over the past decade. It’s now the second-most-widely used medium, with 92 percent citing recent Web surfing, just behind TV.