Consumer Behavior & Media Mix: Comparing Media Spend With Consumers’ Time Spent

Consumers are spending less time with radio, newspapers and magazines. It’s also evident they’re spending more time online and with mobile — while TV stays flat.

Does this mean advertisers should move more of their ad spend to online and mobile, while cutting from radio, newspapers and magazines? The answer is yes … and no. Here are some things to consider.

Age Targeting
Not everyone uses media similarly. Age is a major differentiator for media usage. For example, while 76 percent of 18-34 year olds use TV every day, up to 93 percent of people aged 55 and up are watching TV daily. And while 64 percent of the younger demographic uses a mobile phone daily, only 24 percent of older people can say the same (source: eMarketer).

But no smart media planner assumes younger people will automatically flock to the “newest” media, while older people are mired in their ways of TV and print. In fact, younger people are actually more likely to use magazines daily compared to adults older than 55.

Income Targeting
The impact of the recession is still being felt with many consumers cutting back. More than ever, it’s important to consider household income levels when targeting any advertising spending. Consider the impact of income level on time spent online. While research* shows 88 percent of households with incomes over $100,000 use the Internet weekly, only 57 percent of those with incomes under $75,000 can say the same. Meanwhile, higher income individuals read a median 9.5 magazines a week, while those with incomes under $40,000 look at a median of five. Products and services targeting higher income consumers should keep this important factor in mind.

Advertising Environment
In addition to targeting concerns, advertising effectiveness is impacted by the media chosen. Radio accounts for 15 percent of time but only 11 percent of spending. But because radio is almost entirely a multitasked medium, with an audience that has little patience for endless commercial pods, it has not earned a greater share of advertiser dollars. Similarly, some young people may be much more accepting of smartphone advertising, while older adults may see it as intrusive. Advertisers need to establish key success metrics — by medium and by campaign — for their advertising to determine if it is accomplishing its goals.

Future Trends
Media usage is in a seemingly constant evolution. While TV remains dominant, DVR usage limits the effectiveness of commercials. Print costs are driving newspaper publishers out of business. Meanwhile, the iPad has created new possibilities for media outlets in the area of content consumption. Advertisers need to continually challenge the status quo to gain experience in new media to grow their businesses for the future.

A good media plan has considered targeting, environment and past effectiveness. But it also takes a “test-and-learn” approach, allocating some digital media spending to inform future efforts as much as support current business goals. Communications planning isn’t as simple as lining up spend with media usage time. It takes research, understanding and a measurement of what works to create the optimal brand-consumer connection.

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Julie Pahutski
Julie Pahutski

Julie Pahutski leads Empower’s Decision Sciences practice, which is responsible for media measurement, market research, and digital/web analytics. Her passion is data, whether it is for advanced targeting, media analysis, attribution modeling, or dashboarding. She spearheaded the creation of many proprietary tools at Empower, including Impact Moments® and MAPS (a geographical targeting system).