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Media Multi-Tasking – Trends and Implications for Brands

It’s movie night at your friend’s place and you see a few of your friends browsing the internet while watching the movie.

Yes, media multitasking is the new normal.

If someone is tweeting in the movie theatre, checking Facebook when watching TV or a brand’s channel on YouTube after catching a brief glimpse at a restaurant…these are no longer considered as anything odd. A recent study found that 44% of 18-24-year-olds and 50% of 25-34-year-olds who visit social networking sites on their smartphones when watching TV share their thoughts and create a buzz about what they are watching. They are quite the norm today which people don’t even give a second thought to. Our fast paced life has created a necessity for media multitasking to get more done in as less time as possible.

According to recent research by Facebook, between 88 and 100 million Americans engage on Facebook during primetime television alone. And an increase of 8.5% of Twitter activity for premier episodes results in a 1% program rating increase for adults between 18 and 34.

Given the impact of media multitasking, it’s better to understand the topic better. Don’t you think?

Consumers are spending eight hours and fifteen minutes between radio, TV and internet this year.

Also, when using different kinds of media, consumers aren’t simply chatting with friends; they are also doing product research and shopping online. In a recent study by Marketing Charts, one-third of 25-34 year olds said they shop on their smartphones while watching TV.

Easy Availability of Internet at Home is One Factor Facilitating Media Multitasking

Average Time Spent Per Day With Radio, TV and Internet

Percentage Connected to Wi-fi With 5 Devices

24% homes have five or more devices connected to a Wi-Fi network. So, one can only guess at the extent of media multi-tasking happening. It’s easy for consumers to quickly connect to their home Wi-Fi network and browse the internet say, for a product whose ad they just saw on TV. Brands today have to be all-pervading entities. Presence in only one or two major types of media is no longer sufficient.

Social Media’s Reaction to Importance of Media Multitasking

Twitter recently launched its TV ad targeting feature. The fact that one of the biggest names in the social media world is launching such a feature is telling enough. People no longer treat watching TV or tweeting as independent activities. A lot of people tweet about what they are seeing on TV. Whether they are tweeting their opinion on a TV show, movie, an ad they saw or they are putting out a wish list, media multi-tasking (TV watching and tweeting in this case) seem to be tailored together.

According to Twitter, in 2012, 32 million Americans tweeted about TV programs. Specifically, 24 million about the Super Bowl and 5.8 million tweets on American Idol.

Facebook also seems to be entering the game arena with the recent launch of its TV listings integration feature.

Implications of Consumer Media Multitasking

Consumers are getting better at juggling different types of media. However, what are the implications of this development? Here are some of the implications for marketers:

  • Need for Better Understanding of Different Media

    Brands need to understand the nuances of multiple media platforms to develop appropriate content for each. This will enable them to develop integrated marketing campaigns that leverage media multi-tasking. For example, the Dove Beauty Sketches campaign was first launched on YouTube and then on news and magazines for mainstream exposure. It’s important to stay within the boundaries of each media channel. You can take consumers on a ‘content treasure hunt’ across media because that will engage and inform them.

  • Distracted but Focused Audiences

    According to research, consumers’ focused attention span is five to ten seconds. Seeing some interesting news on a brand, a consumer will switch attention from the TV to the brand’s website or tweet the news. He may be shuffling between media but he is focused. Your messaging strategy has to be very simple and clear because consumers may not stay on a medium for long enough for you to deliver a complex message. Engagement is the only way a brand can get across to consumers whether it is across media or on a single medium.

  • Need for More Extensive Content Planning

    The plethora of media channels and devices available have not just provided brands with outlets for richer content, they have also presented some tough brand challenges. The more the number of media channels, the more avenues brands have to focus on and plan content for.

  • Content Re-Structuring

    Devices with different capabilities give brands a chance to experiment with more graphics but require content re-structuring for every device type. A difference in screen resolutions is one major challenge here and for this, using responsive design would be good.

    It’s also important to re-look at how you present your content. For example, its common knowledge that no one wants to read reams of content on their mobile phones when they are out and about. Offer crisp and brief content. If the content is appropriate for the medium, brands will have an easier time cajoling users to focus their attention on their brand.

Future of Media Multi-Tasking

The coming year will also be heralding the rise of social TV. Social TV includes consumer engagement, communication and interaction when watching television. According to a Gartner study, second screen devices along with customized content, loyalty programs and interactive apps will stimulate the behavior of social TV consumers.

Case of a Half-Empty or Half Full Cup?

Earlier there were only a handful of devices brands needed to focus on to target users. But now it’s a sea of multiple avenues for consumers and so presenting brands with a tough challenge. Now brands not only have to concentrate on consumer media multitasking and inter-linking of various media, they also have focus on reaching consumers through different devices.

What other effects do you think media multi-tasking has on brands? Mention them in your comments below…

Team Position²

Position2 is an innovative digital marketing agency that accelerates demand through integrated Content Marketing, Paid Acquisition, and Marketing Technology solutions. Our demand acceleration solutions map the buyer's journey across multiple touch points such as search, social, mobile, media, and email. These integrated campaigns are powered by cutting-edge content creation, digital advertising, web design/development, marketing automation, and analytics. We serve hundreds of clients ranging from VC funded startups to Fortune 500 multinational firms. Our 200-member team is based in Silicon Valley and Bangalore and consists of marketing gurus, engineers, data scientists, writers, and designers.