Advertising, Marketing & Media Issues

Business Environment

Demographics & Regions

Media Options & Channels

Sales, Operations & Tech

Verticals & Sectors

Subscribe to Media Buyer Daily

Join our LinkedIn group Follow us on Twitter Read our RSS newsfeed

“Digital Natives” Switch Media 27 Times an Hour

Published on April 09, 2012

It is worse than we thought, reports Ad Age. A study of consumer habits commissioned by Time Warner and conducted by Boston’s Innerscope Research found that consumers in their 20s (the so-called "digital natives") switch media venues 27 times per nonworking hour; roughly 13 times during a half-hour TV broadcast.

The study had just 30 participants, and as Ad Age described it, offers some insight into a generation that “always has a smartphone at arm's length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment's notice.”

The study was a 50/50 mix of digital natives and “digital immigrants” who grew up on TV and radio, but adapted to smart phones and 

The study's subjects were split evenly between natives and "digital immigrants" (consumers who grew up with old-school technologies, such as TV, radio and print, and adapted to newer ones). The immigrants showed more patience, switching media venues 17 in a nonworking hour versus 27 for the natives.

The participants wore both biometric belts to measure their physical responses, and glasses with embedded cameras to track their platforms and durations while watching 300 hours of programming. They channel- and media-surfed at a dizzying rate, “Looking for…engaging content, and they dismiss so much stuff,” Dan Albert, senior VP-media director at Chicago's MARC USA agency told Ad Age.

The challenge, said an interviewee from Unilever, becomes that if consumers are “snacking” on short amounts of input, then marketers and advertisers must communicate in “snack-like bits of messaging.” Unilever owns both the Dove and Axe brands, among dozens of others.

One (expensive) method of capturing their attention is to “surround” consumers with ads that appear across several venues, as long as the viewer is tuned to the same content. So American Express might run a print ad in a magazine, plus pre-roll ads on the magazine’s digital version and smartphone and tablet apps. Presumably, Facebook and targeted ads reach those consumers as well, for additional exposures.

A Q4 2011 Nielsen survey found that 45% of U.S. consumers who owned tablets use them daily while watching TV, with similar results among smart phone users.