Complicating the media planner's job

12 Sep 2018  |  Lynne Robinson 
Complicating the media planner's job

TouchPoints exclusive: When there is doubt about the provenance of trading data sources, brand safety and the detrimental effect fake news has on all media trust, the media planner's job becomes increasingly tough, writes the IPA's Lynne Robinson

The past year has been a roller coaster for media with an ever growing range of channel and platform choice for consumers and planners alike combined with an ongoing narrative of doubtful audience claims and declining trust in media caused by fake news scandals which have adversely affected both advertisers’ and consumers’ confidence.

The latest TouchPoints data provides a timely overview of the current status of the media world.

The evolving patterns of media use

Our media consumption patterns are continuing to evolve as improving technology, better connectivity, new platforms and new media channels deliver an ever-widening choice of content which consumers now have total control on how and when they use.

The 2018 dataset clearly demonstrates a continuing pattern of growth in overall media use. However, this is being fragmented across ever more channels and devices resulting in the gap in usage between traditional and digital media platforms increasingly closing.

Whilst the pace of change for all adults is relatively stately, for 15-34 year olds, particularly 15-24 year olds who comprise an increasing proportion of Gen Z, it is far faster. Not surprisingly, there is also evidence that the London ‘bubble’ is evolving at a faster rate compared to the rest of the country.

The average time spent consuming media by an adult now stands at 8 hrs and 11 minutes per day - a 3% increase on 2017 and a 17% increase on 2005.

Given that people do not appear to be significantly cutting down on other activities, in fact, they are sleeping marginally more, the bulk of this increase seems to be being absorbed by increases in the time that people spend multi-media tasking, that is, using more than one medium in any one half hour.

Back in 2005, 79% of adults were consuming two or more media in the same half hour at some point during the week - this has now risen to 94% in 2018. Adults now spend over 2 hours and 17 minutes a day (a 10 minute increase since 2017) media multi-tasking - that is just over a quarter of the time they spend consuming media in total.

We are now so adept at media multi-tasking that 30% of all adults now spend an average of 52 minutes a day consuming more than three different media in any half hour.

For all adults television/video is still the largest medium in terms of both weekly patronage and average hours viewed (99% weekly patronage and 4hrs and 41mins exposure per day). OOH is the second largest medium, matching television on reach but with less hours exposure (99% / 3hrs 24mins). Radio/audio takes third place with a weekly reach of 91% and 3 average hours whilst social networking/messaging is now the fourth largest medium for adults with an 87% weekly reach and average daily hours usage of 3 hrs and 9mins.

For 15-34s, TV/video, OOH and social media/messaging are now all vying to be the most used medium. TV/video and OOH have marginally greater weekly reach at 99% compared to social media/messaging at 97% but social media/messaging is used for a longer time, that is, 4hours per day compared with 3hrs and 47mins for TV/video and 3hrs 22mins for OOH.

The continued growth of digital platforms

Virtually all media are now delivered digitally and the digital platforms are accounting for an ever increasing share of consumption of video, audio and text media.

68% of all adults and 88% of 15-34s now watch TV or video online each week.

Whilst broadcast television still takes the largest share of the video market, the newer channels of catch-up TV, SVOD etc. have recorded significant growth.

Netflix is now viewed by 29% of all adults and 53% of 15-34s each week each for an average of 2 and a quarter hours per day each.

The audience to Amazon Prime Video has grown to 12% reach of adults and 17% of 15-34s each week being viewed for just less than 2 hours each day.

Similarly, audio use is still dominated by live radio listening, however, listening to online streaming services e.g. Spotify, Apple Music etc. has shown significant growth in 2018 with adult weekly reach now standing at 28% with a 12% share of ear and 15-34s weekly reach of these services now standing at 51% with a 31% share of ear.

Spotify free and Spotify premium are the two dominant streamed/live digital audio services. 13% of adults listen to Spotify premium each week, this rises to 29% of 15-34s.

Listening to music video channels for background has also shown significant growth with 16% of all adults and 26% of all 15-24s now tuning in to these services for about one and a half hours each week.

In terms of text, published media’s online platform delivery is now a vital part of total brand performance – this is particularly the case for 15-34s.

In terms of reading any newsbrand - national or regional - the digital platforms increase the total print weekly reach by 53% – this increase rises to more than 100% uplift for 15-34s.

For magazines, the digital platforms increase total adult reach by 37% and 15-34 reach by 112%.

In terms of share of total news consumption - off and online - adults still spend 45% of their news time via a printed newspaper with a further 23% via the newsbrands’ digital platforms, the BBC digital news accounts for a further 21% share with only minimal shares to the likes of Huffington Post etc.

In contrast, 15-34s only spend 12% of their news time with printed newspapers plus a further 36% on newsbrands’ digital platforms. This is matched by the time spent with BBC Online News (33%) a further 4% on Sky News and 2% on Buzzfeed.

The smart phone is the device of choice

Consumers’ growing access to connected devices combined with ever improving connectivity means we can now access and curate content anywhere and anytime.

The device of choice for both all adults and 15-34s is increasingly the smartphone with 85% of all adults and 99% of 15-34s personally using a smart phone.

For the younger age groups, it is evident that their smartphones are increasingly pivotal to their lives. As well as being their primary means of communication, they are also using them for media consumption, gaming, shopping, contactless payments, security access etc. resulting in them using their smartphone for some activity in 29% of their waking half hours compared to a 17% usage rate for adults.

65% of 15-24s look at their phone within 5minutes of waking and 59% look at their phone within 5 minutes of going to sleep.

In terms of media consumption, the major media channels deliver quite different profiles of use by device. For 15-34s, 8% of their video consumption, 34% of their audio consumption and 47% of their news consumption is now via their smartphones.

A question of trust

Finally, we asked our respondents to rate how much they trusted what they now see and hear in each of the major media channels. Although social media was rated the least trustworthy media channel by both adults and 15-34s there were quite marked differences in the levels of intensity of trust between adults and 15-34s.

For adults, the most trusted media channel was radio – rated 63% more trustworthy than Social Media. Radio was closely followed by television (+61% more trustworthy than social media), local newspapers (+57%) and mail (+56%).

Whilst 15-34s also found social media the least trustworthy channel, they found it 17% more trustworthy than all adults did. Also, the range in trustworthiness between the media channels was much narrower for 15-34s. TV was the most trustworthy channel – some 11% more trustworthy than Social Media followed by radio (+9%) and mail (+8%)

The state of the media nation

TouchPoints is unique in providing an independent and comparable audience measure for all major media channels. It provides both perspective and context across all media channels.

The 2018 dataset shows that the rate of change in the media landscape is the greatest we have experienced since we started publishing TouchPoints in 2006.

Media usage levels have never been greater. With the notable exception of mail, all media are now to a greater or lesser extent digital. Despite some very successful newcomers, individual media channels – both established and new - remain strong but their total brand audiences are increasingly spread across multiple platforms and devices and are consumed at a time the user chooses rather than the old ‘when broadcast or published’.

This is a complex world for media planners to navigate successfully, particularly, when there is doubt about the provenance of some trading data sources, the brand safety of some environments and the detrimental effect ‘fake news’ has on all media trust.

However, the clear message from these media stats is that consumers crave content – good content - and will seek this out via any platform, channel, and through any device.


Lynne Robinson is Research Director, IPA

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17 Sep 2018 

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