According to the latest Daily Media Consumption survey published by Temkin Group, Americans spend 18 hours daily watching TV, surfing the Internet, listening to the radio, reading books, news or newspapers and using apps.
18 hours? So when do we find time to work, eat, sleep and interact with our fellow human beings? Of course, we multitask.
Some of the double duty is obvious; time spent “reading news online” also counts as “time spent online.” Others require a little connecting of the dots. Watching a TV show on HBO GO or Hulu would also count as hours spent online. Someone listening to the radio could easily be updating their Facebook status at the same time. While anyone live tweeting a TV show would rack up hours in three categories.
The fact is we’re spending more time consuming content. Year-over-year, we’re spending 42 minutes more consuming content in 2013 than we did in 2012. This seemed implausible to me until I remembered how last night I was listening to SiriusXM on my Sonos sytem, while “watching” baseball on TV (with the sound off), all the while scrolling through a day’s worth of twitter tweets. Yes, I was triple-dipping. And it all seemed perfectly natural.
Most of us glide through our days unconsciously multitasking. We listen to the radio while we shower and shave. We read the morning paper (or an online version of one) over breakfast. We consume audio information and entertainment on the way to work. And all day long, we bounce on- and offline, turning the radio volume up and down and perhaps even streaming a TV show live on our iPads and laptops while somehow remaining productive members of the workforce.
The key takeaway is that our consumption of media and usage of media platforms is increasing. Six of the nine categories shown in the chart above depict higher usage levels in 2013 than in 2012. Two show flat usage levels and only one (“Go on the Internet with your computer for work”) declined in daily consumption time. For marketers, it’s a mixed message. Consumption is up, but so is bifurcation of attention split by medium. Someone listening to the radio while they watch TV and tweet is likely to miss at least some of the paid marketing messages on one (or all) of those properties.
That means marketers and creative types must pay more attention to the all-important “grabber” at the beginning of a radio commercial and use the full spectrum of sound to command and retain attention. You might even choose to target these media multitaskers by calling them out on their simultaneous media consumption. You’ll certainly command their attention in that moment. Then it’s up to you to hold it. And that’s pretty much the challenge facing marketers in any medium today, as consumers do more things at the same time.