If you are trying to increase your market reach, the rules are changing rapidly. For most new businesses looking to grow their brand, using print media and radio advertising are, to put it lightly, like taking your money and lighting it on fire. Those two forms of advertising work best for established companies with very specific target audiences.
If you are looking to make an impact in this new always-connected internet society, screens should be your preferred media. The large screen that sits on the entertainment center in your living room, the small screen you carry around in your purse or pocket all day, and the screen most Americans sit in front of for 8 hours at work every day. In order to increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, you should aim to land on each and every one of these screens.
Nielsen just released a report on the shifts in viewing habits in the American population. The results may not have been too surprising, but we can still take away a few lessons. Let’s take a look at seven points to keep in mind when you are working to create an effective cross-platform, multi-screen marketing strategy.
1. The television screen still dominates the media consumption landscape.
Television viewing is down across the board, but according to the numbers, that decline is 10 minutes on average over the last two years. When that daily time commitment is still over four hours a day, anyone who tries to sell you on the notion that young people aren’t watching television anymore is just wrong.
According to the Nielsen report, 96% of households in America have a television, and 87% have an HD television. This number isn’t surprising, considering HDTVs have been out on the market for longer than the average consumer electronic device’s life expectancy.
The surprising number is that 84% of American households have either digital cable or satellite subscriptions. People are cutting the cord, but not in large enough numbers to make you think twice about your TV advertising budgets — or at least not just yet.
Besides, if you cut TV advertising out of your marketing strategy, then you don’t really have a “multi-screen” attack, now do you?
2. There is a huge variance among demographic segments in hours spent watching a television screen.
One caveat to the advice above might come in the form of more specific demographic numbers. While the numbers for overall viewership range from over 4 hours day in the 18–34 age group all the way up to over 6 hours for the 50–64 age group, those numbers vary much more widely when age and ethnic demographic groups are taken into consideration.
Black Americans in the 50–64 age group watch almost 9.5 hours of television a day. Compare that to the 2.75 hours a day spent by Asian Americans in the 18–34 age group. As the American viewing audience evolves and the number of households in these ethnic groups grows, television audiences will change fundamentally. Networks and other television content creators are well aware of these changes and will adjust their programming accordingly. Make sure your advertisements are being displayed on the medium your target audience is most likely to be watching.
3. That difference doesn’t exist in digital media.
These wild variations don’t really exist in the realm of digital media. In terms of percentages, 80% growth in digital media consumption in one year in the 35–49 age group might seem staggeringly high. But the difference between 14 minutes and 26 minutes, while significant, doesn’t support the notion that Gen-Xers — which comprise the majority of this group — have fundamentally changed their media consumption habits. New opportunities, definitely, but 26 minutes of digital media — compared to just under 5 hours of television — shows who is still the boss, so to speak.
Consider that, in absolute terms, almost every demographic group in the Nielsen report spends between a half hour and an hour per day consuming digital media. This still isn’t very much time, which means you had better target your digital advertising pretty well. Compared to the amount of time just spent surfing the internet, digital media advertising remains a pretty difficult moving target to hit.
4. It’s hard to tell how Netflix plays into all of this.
Nielsen does not include Netflix viewers when it determines ratings for cable and network television shows, so it is tough to gauge the streaming giant’s impact on the numbers in this report. However, remember that the data above for television viewership is merely “time spent watching the television screen” as opposed to digital video delivered some other way. Netflix has to factor into this somehow.
5. People are still listening to radio, but are they paying attention?
Perhaps the most surprising statistic in this entire report is that people are still spending a surprising amount of time listening to radio. However, given the proliferation of visual media, radio is unlikely to garner much of our attention. If we are still listening to 2 hours and forty-five minutes minutes of radio per day, on top of more than five hours of visual media consumption and another hour “using internet on a computer,” there is only so much quality time available in terms of really engaging your audience’s attention.
When are people finding the time to listen to almost three hours of radio a day? Our best guess is either on the daily commute or at work. In both cases, the audience’s primary focus is elsewhere. If radio is a big part of your multi-platform marketing strategy, it might be time to reconsider.
6. The vast majority of households have both cable and broadband
This isn’t the most surprising point of this whole article, but it does speak to how the audience is consuming media in 2014. With in-home WiFi now being provided by the ISP, it is easier than ever to use an internet connected device while watching television. ISPs do this because they are also content owners, and they want to get their content in front of the largest audience possible in the largest number of ways possible. They are already doing a lot of the work, just hop on board and ride along.
7. Tablet usage has doubled in just one year
The percentage of households that own a tablet has doubled in just one year. Content owners are taking advantage of this by creating video-on-demand libraries and “second screen” content. This “second screen” idea is brilliant, as it encourages the viewer, who is likely looking at a second screen already anyway, to return their focus back to your content. Rather than losing the audience to Facebook or Twitter during the commercial break, networks are finding ways to keep them engaged. Sometimes that includes social media, and when it does, that’s just free advertising.
If traditional television advertising isn’t in your budget, jumping onto the second screen with a banner ad or quick pre-video ad would be a great way to harness the viewership traditional television still provides. Joining the social media discussion is also a completely free way to get your name out in front of the people watching these shows.