How Consumer Behavior is Changing In a Multi-Device World

January 17, 2019 Ginna Hall

When it comes to media, consumers today may as well be singing along to the lyrics of a Queen song: “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.”

Never before have we been able to watch, listen to, download, and read the content we want, via the services we use, on the devices we own. With all of this technology at our literal fingertips, which platforms are we focused on? According to Nielsen, the answer, in short, is pretty much all of them.

According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, adults in the U.S. spent almost 10 and a half hours a day with media in the second quarter of 2018. We spend almost half of that time watching video — on TV, on computers, and via apps on smartphones and tablets. We spend another hour and 45 minutes listening to radio plus 44 minutes with social media.

But there are only so many hours in a day. To fit in the vast amount of time we devote to media throughout our waking hours, we double dip, using multiple channels and devices at the same time. Aren’t we clever?

So the time we spend on different platforms such as live and time-shifted TV (more than five hours per day), radio (nearly two hours per day), and digital devices (over three and a half hours per day), overlaps in a multitude of ways.

  • 45% of respondents watched TV while using digital devices “very often” or “always,” according to a custom survey of Nielsen’s Media Enthusiast Community.
  • Nearly a third reported using TV and digital “sometimes,” while only 12% never use both at the same time.
  • Only 6% often watch and listen to different content at the same time and over half never use TV and audio simultaneously.

Searching, Texting and Shopping While Viewing

Smartphones and tablets have changed the way consumers interact with and consume media. Smartphones account for 65% of total digital usage. We don’t just use digital platforms to access our favorite shows, movies and podcasts, for example, we also use them in tandem with TV and audio to augment and improve our overall experience.

Habits are beginning to emerge and Nielsen has identified distinct digital behaviors that accompany our consumption of TV and audio. According to the survey, learning about the content we’re consuming is a popular action, with 71% of respondents having looked up information related to the TV content they were viewing and 51% doing the same for audio.

Many of us don’t put the phone down when consuming TV and audio content either. Nearly a third of respondents have emailed, texted or messaged others about the content they’re listening to while 20% have done the same on social media. And we’re even more chatty when we watch TV — 41% of respondents emailed, texted or messaged others about the TV content they viewed while 28% wrote or read about it on social media.

Building an Omni-Channel Marketing Strategy

Meanwhile, marketers and advertisers will be glad to hear that 35% of TV viewers and 25% of audio listeners have shopped for the products and services advertised on the main platform. This highlights a need for an omni-channel marketing strategy in the digital age, as well as making sure brand messages lean into click-through conversion.

With a focus on the consumer rather than the channel, omni-channel marketing is about creating personalized, contextually relevant experiences that engage consumers in the right place, at the right time and with the right message in order to drive a conversion.

Powerful technologies exists today that can enable marketers not only to track consumers as they move across multiple devices, but also provide the ability to measure the contribution of each of those disparate touchpoints to an ultimate conversion in a privacy-compliant way.

These solutions provide marketers with insight into how content and/or ads seen on one screen affect actions taken on the other, so marketers can better understand the effectiveness of their campaigns.

When these mobile ad solutions are combined with advanced measurement technology that takes into account cross-channel, cross-campaign and cross-tactic impact, marketers can gain insight into the true effectiveness and ROI of any combination of media, whether served on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, and make spend decisions based on those insights.

Changing Consumer Behavior

The evolving landscape continues to shape new media patterns for consumers. Though each platform offers its own distinct advantages for consumers, there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between traditional and digital technologies, whether users are augmenting their linear TV viewing experience with social media via their smartphones or purchasing goods related to a radio ad they’re hearing.

Today’s media environment is keeping consumers engaged on multiple fronts. As consumers continue to interact with media across a growing number of screens, marketers equipped to address the unique measurement challenges of the multi-device world will gain the edge on  competitors without these critical tools.

> Download your copy of the Nielsen Total Audience Report here.

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