Media Multitaskers May Miss Messages

  |  April 2, 2004   |  Comments

The simultaneous media overload doesn't necessarily mean more information is being absorbed, as users are often distracted by the various sources.

Various forms of media are trying to co-exist as consumers increasingly display the ability to multitask. An October 2003 survey from The Media Center at the American Press Institute and BIGresearch indicates that 70 percent of consumers use different forms of media simultaneously, while Mobium Creative Group found that as many as 83 percent of business professionals media multitask while performing work-related duties.

According to The Media Center and BIGresearch, TV-watching is complemented by a mix of old and new media. Roughly three-quarters of the 13,414 respondents who watch TV regularly or occasionally also read the newspaper, while two-thirds say they go online while watching TV. The Internet also accompanied more than half of those who also listened to the radio, and 20 percent who said they read the newspaper at the same time.

Simultaneous media usage may seem like good news for marketers who are concerned that the Internet or some other type of new media would detract from traditional media (TV, radio, print). However, media multitasking often means the message gets diluted. Mobium Creative Group found that more than 80 percent of the business professionals that media multitask pay more attention to one medium than another.

"We found that simultaneous media use is pervasive among business people...from 88 percent who read magazines while watching TV, to 70 percent who listen to the radio while they're on line doing job related things, to 56 percent who look at business publications while they're on the Internet," says Guy Gangi, partner, Mobium Creative group.

Last time they used media
simultaneously, business people said
they paid the most attention to:
Online 41%
Newspapers 20%
TV 18%
Trade journals 5%
General business publications 5%
Radio 4%
Direct mail 4%
Sales literature 1%
Never use media simultaneously 2%
Source: Mobium Creative Group

Broad, multichannel campaigns are not necessarily the solution to capturing the distracted eyeballs, according to Phil Rist, vice president of strategic initiatives, BIGresearch, who says that marketers can use the opportunity for innovative targeted advertising. "[Marketers] can plan what media mixes to use as well as new ideas for creative. If a target group has a high degree of TV/magazine interaction, it means heads are down reading during viewing time. TV commercials need high audio to get their attention," Rist explains.

Simultaneous media usage is not a new concept, but Rist points out that no one was really measuring it from the consumers' point-of-view until recently. By understanding media consumption from the consumers' perspective, the industry has a chance to adapt.

"Anytime there is new information, members of the industry that like things the old way are troubled by change. To the folks that like to maintain status quo, they perceive info as danger. Other open-minded individuals see the opportunity to better understand consumers," says Rist.

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