August 7, 2013

Popularity Contest: Digital Media vs. Television

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There is a noteworthy movement in the way that Americans are consuming media. Last week, the research firm eMarketer released a study saying that Americans have spent more time this year online or with other digital media than watching conventional television. The results are an important milestone in the progression of media use. For multiple decades, television has had a firm hold on the top of American media consumption yet it is has fallen victim to the sweeping digital media phenomenon.

The study says that the average adult spends five hours and nine minutes each day with digital media compared to 4 hours and 31 minutes watching television. Combined with radio, print and miscellaneous sources, it is a whopping total of 12 hours and 5 minutes of daily media use. The shift to digital dominance can best be attributed to the popularity of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It is particularly fascinating to note that television viewing has hardly decreased. eMarketer reports a mild decrease of four hours and 38 minutes daily in 2012 to four hours and 31 minutes in 2013. The shift for first place is a result of a dramatic increase in digital consumption. eMarketer reports that since 2010, the amount of time spent daily for non-voice mobile activities has increased from 24 minutes to two hours and 21 minutes.  Cell phones have become constant companions, as well as the go-to source for entertainment and quick web-browsing.

Breaking down the specific numbers of the study can be confusing. Since “media” can be broadly defined, there is a lot of overlap between the category deviations. Additionally, mobile device usage is an extremely hard figured to calculate. It’s no surprise then that there are several similar studies with differing totals. If you’re trying to understand how the figures are possible, it’s important to note that the numbers divide multitasking into separate categories. For example, an hour spent watching TV while using a tablet to browse the internet is counted as one hour online and one hour watching television. Although it is useful to recognize the potential inaccuracies of the research, the specific numbers of the surveys aren’t worth worrying about because the overarching point is clear; digital media consumption is growing rapidly. While the individual numbers of the studies vary, the broad trends indicate a dramatic increase in mobile and digital use.

Since the world of media is changing quickly, it is essential that your business embrace the changes and look ahead. A strong and active online presence is essential for developing your brand and reaching a large audience.  In our article “Instagram and the Importance of Online Video Marketing”, we discussed the direct benefit to your sales that online content can provide. The findings from eMarketer only affirm the powerful online possibilities. But video is only a piece of the puzzle. The increase in digital consumers means new possibilities for online advertising. Outlets like social media and blogs could also provide enormous gains to your audience interaction. Additionally, the rise of app-based computing presents a brand new avenue for advertising in a mobile platform. Americans are consuming unprecedented amounts of digital media and it is essential that your business meet the expansion.