According to an eMarketer analysis of time spent with media, TV and mobile saw significant gains vs. 2010 — with conventional TV the winner and still champion. According to the data presented, the average US adult spends about 4 hours and 34 minutes per day watching TV. Multitasking is counted as time spent independently with each medium.
(Here are some gratuitous but related, facts: Almost one in three Americans are technically obese, while one in 20 are clinically depressed according to the US Center for Disease Control. Excessive TV watching is partly a reaction to stress and/or depression and leads in part to obesity.)
Time spent with the internet was up almost 8 percentage points over last year. But time spent with mobile devices increased 30 percent. No doubt that’s partly a statement about the growth of smartphones. But here’s the headline: “US adults now spend more time with their mobile phones than with print magazines and newspapers combined, at 1 hour and 5 minutes vs. just 44 minutes,” according to eMarketer.
Comparing time spent with mobile to print is a bit of “apples to oranges,” because all time spent on mobile devices isn’t looking at media. There’s a much broader array of things that people do on smartphones (call, text, internet, apps/games, etc.). A somewhat better comparison would be time spent with comparable content on mobile devices vs. print. It’s also not clear how/whether tablets are factored in to this analysis; they don’t appear to be.
Data from multiple sources indicate that the majority of tablet owners spend more than an hour a day “consuming content” on their mostly iPads. According to survey data from Google-AdMob 43 percent of respondents reported using their tablets more than other devices/media:
Source: Google-AdMob (3/11), n=1,430
In addition, more recent research from Google says, “tablets are multi-tasking devices with at least 42 percent of activities occurring while doing another task or engaging with another entertainment medium” (often TV).
The “time spent” metric is instructive for marketers but, as I’ve suggested, a bit deceiving. We’re now firmly in a multitasking world where one must assume that other media and devices are being used and consumed simultaneously (i.e., smartphones, tablets). And that’s especially true in the case of TV. So while people spend the most time with TV, are they actually paying attention to the ads?
Advertising must now shift to reflect and take advantage of this real-time “cross-platform” reality.
Postscript: I was in contact with eMarketer and told that “mobile” does include tablets in this data.