March 2007 - Marketing Methods

Profile of the New Media Consumer

By Peter Koeppel

The February 2007 issue of Media magazine presented a fascinating profile of the new media consumer. The article notes that Americans spend 9.5 hours a day with various forms of media. Computer usage now consumes 166 minutes a day and ranks second to TV usage at 266 minutes a day. Approximately one-third of consumers’ time spent with one medium also was spent with another medium concurrently. According to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, about 17 percent of the time spent watching TV is shared with other media, compared with an average of 65 percent for computer-based activities.

Consumers now have access to a range of devices to consume media that weren’t available in the past, such as VOD, satellite radio, PDAs, MP3 players, DVRs and hand-held video games. This has resulted in a shift in the balance of power from the media outlets to the consumer. The Media article provides a glimpse into the media consumption habits of consumers.

For example, young males often stack two TVs-one for TV-watching and the other for video games-so they can use both simultaneously, according to the Kaiser study. Many consumers are no longer consuming media that is pushed to them through TV shows, music and news programming. They are accessing only the content they want and creating their own media world.

People under age 35 spend the most time using digital media. As reported in Media, “The rise of broadband video, mobile devices and wireless technologies has elevated digital media to constant-companion status among people younger than 35.” A Ball State study reports that the 18 to 24 age group spends the most time on instant messaging, cell phones, music video use and games consoles.

The computer has become the gateway to various media activities, according to Paul Levinson at Fordham University. Computers allow consumers to experience concurrent media, since you can move easily from an e-mail to a website to a phone call. According to the Media article, it’s predicted that consumers’ attention paid to TV will erode as computer usage rises and video distribution via the computer improves. A recent Harris Poll of frequent YouTube users indicates they are watching less TV as a result of the time they spend on the site.

So how do you reach consumers in today’s media environment? Don’t beat them over the head with a message. Instead, offer assistance and access to information that they are seeking. That’s why the three biggest names in media are now Google, YouTube and iTunes. What does this mean for marketers? They need to start thinking about developing media that “extends consumer engagement, rather than disrupting it,” according to Interpublic research. When targeting consumers, they need to understand that, as NBC’s Alan Wurtzel says, “the media [they] grow up with basically determines the kind of media consumer [they will] be.”

Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct Inc., a full service media buying agency based in Dallas. He can be reached at (972) 732-6110, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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