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Adults in the U.S. spend half their day with media

May 16, 2017 | By Tim Bourgeois — Digital Media Auditor and Consultant @ChiefDigOfficer

With the upfronts happening this week in New York—where the FOX Broadcasting advertising chief, according to one report, threw “shade at digital, likening it to subprime mortgage crisis”—the recently published U.S. Time Spent with Media report from eMarketer provides some facts and forecasts to the conversation. Specifically, how much media U.S. adults consume, and how it is consumed, across digital, TV, radio, and print.

The FOX head of advertising’s comment are especially curious given that only a couple of weeks ago, Recode reported that “This is the year digital beats TV” when it comes to ad sales, which surprised exactly no one who follows industry trends. That said, any reasonably well-informed marketer knows this much: TV advertising moves product. And most companies that can afford to promote their wares via television, do. Google has built an empire by serving up classified ads on a global scale. However, the platform can’t yet motivate us to purchase $80,000 cars, switch insurance carriers, or buy low-calorie-but-watery beer at staggering volumes. TV spots are incredibly effective at their jobs, no matter how stereotypical and annoying they may seem.

At the end of the day, neither digital nor television advertising are going away anytime soon, though the delivery backbone is certainly evolving.

Here’s what eMarketer’s findings show, and what you need to know about consumers’ media habits:

  • US adults will average 12 hours 7 minutes of media usage per day in 2017, up 3 minutes compared to 2016, and 15 minutes compared to 2014. Time spent with mobile will account for nearly all of this year’s increase. Following several years of rapid evolution—driven by digital and mobile—consumption is stabilizing across media and device types.
  • Digital and TV combine to account for 82% of daily media consumption. A breakdown of the 727 total minutes of average media consumption each day: 350 minutes with digital (48%), 244 minutes with TV (34%), 86 minutes with radio (12%), and 25 minutes with print (3%).
  • It’s important to acknowledge the “convergence” factor, meaning that there is a meaningful amount of video and radio consumption in the “digital” category. People are watching video and listening to radio via smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers.
  • Non-digital TV remains the biggest single element of US adults’ daily media usage, but its share slowly dwindles each year. Among millennials, time spent is declining sharply. Time spent with digital video keeps rising and is expected to average 1 hour 13 minutes per day this year.
  • Half of US adults read print publications (newspapers and magazines). More than 90% of U.S. adults are TV viewers, radio listeners, and mobile phone users. While most US adults will be internet users this year, a nontrivial 14% of them will not be.
  • More of the digital universe is designed to cater to smartphones, and this often takes the form of apps. In-app usage is expected to account for 89% of smartphone time and 77% of tablet time this year.

Tim Bourgeois (@ChiefDigOfficer) is a partner at East Coast Catalyst, a Boston-based digital consulting company specializing in strategic roadmaps, digital marketing audits, and online marketing optimization programs.

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