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Where have all our audiences gone?

12 Sep 2019  |  Belinda Beeftink 
Where have all our audiences gone?

TouchPoints exclusive: The How, Why and When of media consumption is reaching a new tipping point, writes the IPA's research director Belinda Beeftink

We are all aware of the increasing choice of platforms and channels that deliver content to us in the ways we choose. However, there are only 24 hours in a day so competition for our time continues to increase.

The latest TouchPoints data provides a timely overview of the current status of our media world. Our media consumption patterns are continuing to evolve as technology, better connectivity, new platforms and channels deliver an ever-increasing choice of content, which we can access when and how we choose.

Media everywhere

Our time spent with all media remains high at 8 hours and 8 minutes a day but this is not a significant change on 2018 (less than 1% increase). Multimedia consumption is also high with 94% of adults consuming two or more media in the same half hour at some point during the week. Again, there is no year on year increase. What about the time people spend media multitasking? We spend an hour and 43 minutes a day media multitasking which is just a 4% increase year on year.

Despite the ever-increasing fragmentation and choice of channels and platforms now available, our macro media use patterns, remain similar to previous years. Peak times for listening to radio remain on our way to work in the morning and again going home in the evening.

Peak times for reading newsbrands are still in the morning and around lunchtime. Digital media content is accessed throughout the day and we are exposed to Out of Home as we travel around. Peak times for watching television/video and cinema are still in the evening.

For all adults TV/Video is still the largest medium in terms of weekly reach and average hours viewed (99% reach and 4 hours and 10 minutes of viewing per day). Year on year the reach has remained the same but the average hours of viewing have dropped by 4%. The ways in which we can access TV/ Video content are expanding; video viewing covers an ever-growing number of categories from live TV broadcast at the time of viewing: catch up; SVoD, short form video to recorded, online and streamed viewing etc. all delivered on a wide range of devices.

The newer forms of viewing are attracting more viewers with 45% of adults watching paid for, on demand video each week (up from 37% in 2018). For 15 – 34s the weekly reach for paid for, on demand video is 71% (up from 63% in 2018). Short online clips remain popular with 15 – 34s, with a weekly reach of 44% (up from 39% in 2018). However, time spent viewing short online clips for 15 – 34s has fallen from 41 minutes a day in 2018 to 38 minutes a day in 2019.

OOH is the second largest medium with a weekly reach of 100% and 3 hours and 1 minute per day of exposure. Year on year the reach has remained the same but the exposure has marginally increased.

Radio/audio takes third place with a weekly reach of 91% and average daily hours of 2 hours and 23 minutes. Year on year, radio/audio has maintained its reach but increased average daily hours from 2 hours 18 minutes in 2018 to 2 hours 23 minutes in 2019, an increase of 4%. Audio consumption is still dominated by live radio listening with 78% of adults and 64% of 15 – 34s tuning in on a weekly basis.

Listening to online streaming services e.g. Spotify, Apple Music etc. has shown significant growth in 2019 with adult weekly reach now standing at 33% (28% in 2018). 15 – 34s reach is now 57% (up from 51% in 2018). Weekly reach of podcasting has not increased significantly year on year.

Reach for all adults is 12% and 17% for 15 – 34s. Listening hours have not increased significantly either. Adult average daily hours are 35 minutes and 15 – 34s average daily hours are 40 minutes, both decreases on 2018 where they were 38 and 48 minutes respectively.

Social networking/messaging is now the fourth largest medium for adults with 80% weekly reach (down from 87% in 2018) and average hours a day of 2 hours and 32 minutes (up from 2 hours and 29 minutes in 2018). For social media facebook still reaches 60% of adults each week (62% in 2018), with 42% of adults using facebook Messenger. 19% of adults are using Twitter (20% in 2018).

Instagram has increased its weekly reach from 24% in 2018 to 28% in 2019. Whatsapp has also increased from 48% in 2018 to 53% in 2019. The weekly reach for facebook for 15 – 34s has also declined from 81% in 2018 to 76% in 2019. Twitter has remained stable with a reach of 31% in 2018 and 30% in 2019. The reach for Whatsapp has increased slightly from 66% in 2018 to 69% in 2019.

Published brands online platform delivery is a vital part of the total brand performance – and this is particularly true for 15 – 34s where the weekly reach for online newsbrands has overtaken weekly reach for newsbrands in print (31% vs 12.2%). Digital platforms increase the all-adult total print weekly reach by 62%. Digital platforms increase the 15 – 34 total print weekly reach by 200%.

Time spent reading newsbrands by all adults has increased very slightly year on year, (34 minutes per day in 2019 vs 32 minutes a day in 2018). For 15 – 34s the time spent reading per day has also increased marginally year on year (20 minutes per day in 2019 vs 19 minutes per day in 2018).

For magazines digital platforms increase the all-adult total print weekly reach by 41% and increase the 15 – 34 total print weekly reach by 121%. Time spent reading magazines in total has stayed relatively constant at an average of 14 minutes per day in 2019 for all adults and 11 minutes a day for 15 – 34s.

Lost without our mobile phones

Whilst mobile phones are the device of choice for both adults and 15 – 34s (87% for all adults and 99% for 15 – 34s), desktops/laptops are the next favoured device with 79% of all adults and 86% of 15 – 34s personally using them. Tablets are used by 49% of adults and 43% of 15 – 34s (a very slight decline on 2018).

E-books are used by 16% of all adults and 11% of 15 – 34s (again a slight decline on 2018). 33% of adults and 54% of 15 – 34s personally use a games console (a slight increase on 2018). Streaming devices (Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Now TV etc.) are used by 28% of all adults and 33% of 15 – 34s. Voice activated devices (e.g. Amazon Echo, Apple Home Pod or Google Home) are used by 18% of all adults and 21% of 15 – 34s.

Over the past few years, mobile phones have been used for much more than communication. Aside from communication, the most widely used task is for presenting a ticket (43% of adults and 60% of 15 – 34s).

Presenting tickets via mobile phone has increased year on year for all adults by 16% and for 15 – 34s by 12%. Other popular tasks include identity validation (36% of all adults), voice activated search (20% of all adults) and use as a contactless travel card (13% of all adults).

How about sharing? TouchPoints tells us that one in five adults share their viewing via a mobile or tablet with at least one other person. This figure rises to 34% of 15 – 34s who share their viewing via a mobile or tablet with at least one other person.

A question of trust

Not only are we relishing the freedom to choose the media content we want but we are also becoming more mindful of the advertising messages that come with that content. TouchPoints respondents were asked to tell us how much they “trust” what they see, hear or read in various media using a 7 point scale.

All the high-level trust scores improved year on year and significantly so for 15 – 34s. The highest level of trust for all adults goes to radio (54%), slightly up on 2018 (51%). The highest level of trust for 15 – 34s goes to Search results (54%), whilst their trust level for radio is 49%.

The lowest level of trust for all adults is content on social media (64%) just a little bit down on the previous year when it was 68%. The lowest level of trust for 15 – 34s is also social media (55%) a small improvement on last year when the number was 59%.

For the first time this year, we asked people to tell us how many ads they think they are exposed to each day – an average of 182 ads for all adults. Clearly, this is based on perception, but in reality it could be more and we already know that people are finding it too much.

If we add to this that nearly half of us like technology that allows us to skip ads and 60% of us find advertising on the internet very irritating, we must be careful how we treat consumers in terms of ad exposure.

The state of the media nation

So this then, is a picture of the media landscape for 2019. Habits are changing, but for some media we may have reached a tipping point where the annual increases in time spent and reach will not continue.

The competition for our time is hotting up. With the notable exception of mail, all media are now digital in some form or another. Individual media channels (established and new) remain strong, despite the success of notable newcomers such as Netflix and Spotify.

However, total media brand audiences are increasingly spread across multiple platforms and devices. This is a complex world for media planners to navigate successfully, particularly when sometimes there is doubt about the provenance of some trading data sources, the brand safety of some environments and the effect that “fake” news can have on all media trust. One thing is not in doubt and that is that consumers want good content and will seek it out via any platform, channel or device.


Belinda Beeftink is research director, IPA

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