When the CRE’s Media Consumption and Engagement Committee first envisioned the landmark Video Consumer Mapping Study back in the fall of 2005, we were inspired by the industry’s concerns regarding the future of the media environment, ongoing fragmentation and their resulting fear that consumers will be impossible to reach with advertising messages. Specifically, we had sought to verify or dispel several popular notions about current video usage behaviors such as:
• The 30 second spot is dead
• No one under the age of 30 watches TV; they’re all streaming video on the internet.
• No one watches live TV. Everyone is recording TV shows on their DVRs. (note that in 2005, DVR penetration was in less than 7% of TV households).
It was clear that our industry was obsessed with the world of tomorrow when it didn’t even have a handle on the current landscape. We decided to develop the definitive consumer media map that would provide a reality check regarding how they go about accessing content throughout their day.
The research was intended to be consumer-centric and media neutral. While our focus was on TV and Video, we also measured usage of non-screen media such as magazines, newspapers and radio via computer-assisted direct observation. Findings from this $3.5 million dollar study significantly increased our understanding of how consumers access content within the context of their daily lives and changed the conversation regarding the TV screen.
We also learned that time spent with different devices was concurrent and that increased use of one medium was not at the expense of other media. Interestingly we learned that the age group that spent the most time with content was not Adults 18-24; rather it was the Digital Boomers (Adults 45-54) who spent 9½ hours per day with screen media versus 8 ½ hours per day for all other age groups. It turns out this group embraced classic forms of media content like older consumers and newer forms of digital media like younger ones. For more information on about the VCM and the CRE, please click here. www.researchexcellence.com/committees/vcm_clientpresentation.pdf
Back when we initially conceived the study, the video iPod was just getting introduced. By the time our study went into the field in 2008, we had to take iPhones and HDTVs into account. Who would have ever envisioned back then, that in 2011 consumers would now have access to such a wide array of portable device options: iPads, e-readers, the explosion of smartphone adoption, as well as the availability of live TV (in addition to streaming video) on these devices.
Consumers have always had an insatiable appetite for content. This appetite continues to be fed by technological enhancements. The technologies that do the best job of enhancing and facilitating consumers’ ability to access and consume content, however, whenever, and wherever they prefer to do so will be widely and rapidly adopted.
At the same time the ability and desire to access content on-demand will be offset by the human desire to connect and have shared experiences with each other. It is for this very reason that TV shows will continue to be scheduled and viewers will continue to seek out their most desired content when it airs “live” or “near live” in order to be part of the conversation.
Marshall McLuhan once referred to the TV medium as a “Global Village”. Social Media, on the other hand, has transformed the media environment into a myriad of town hall meetings; those who actively engage in sharing information can be thought of as town criers. Mass Media and Social Media will be forever intertwined. Think of the social media conversation surrounding a given TV show or event as a virtual water cooler.
From the early days of cuneiform writing, people have sought to disseminate information and share their experiences peer-to-peer. We migrated from knocking on our neighbor’s doors, riding through town on horseback, to making phone calls, sending emails, texting and tweeting. The current “Occupy Wall Street” effort was organized peer-to-peer via social media and continues to build momentum since its September 17th inception. Just this past week, when word got out regarding Bank of America’s
plan to charge an additional $5 monthly fee to debit card users, the backlash via Twitter and Facebook were so widespread that it undoubtedly was the catalyst behind BofA’s ongoing web site malfunctions.
Digital and Social Media usage had exploded in the past few years. Globally there are about two billion people are on the Internet, there over five billion people connected via mobile phones, and Facebook claims 750 million users.
According to Pew Research, over 42% of adults over 50 use some form of social media. The ease of video-sharing technology also appeals to multiple age groups.
Although social media gives voice to a variety of points-of-view, people are tribal in nature and tend to seek out those people who embrace shared interests and values. This is yet another reason why planning, buying, and guaranteeing media delivery by age and gender has no relevance, yet the current state of audience measurement keeps us stuck in the time warp of doing business as usual. Age and gender similarities have little or nothing to do with determining content or technology choices. Rather, these choices are more a function of lifestyle, life-stage and mindset.
Media research companies need to shift their focus from just measuring audiences to the medium or platform, to measuring consumers by their shared transmedia experiences and lifestyle preferences.
It is also abundantly apparent that our industry continues its ongoing obsession with the world of tomorrow while still unable to have a proper grasp of the current state of the media landscape.
Let’s start with some methodological research that helps to better inform the relationship between consumers and content. Clearly, a second generation Video Consumer Mapping Study would be ideal. Regardless of whether the CRE undertakes that effort, here are just two of the many important research questions that need answers.
1) In addition to measuring how many, how often and how long audiences are exposed to a given medium, how about some research that gets at where and why this choice of medium made?
2) How does the relationship between social media and engagement with TV content impact:
- Ratings performance?
- Receptivity to an ad message?
What are your pressing research questions?
Send them to email@example.com and I will publish them in my next blog post.