Media Multitaskers and Purchase Influence

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Consumers are increasingly pressed for time and, due to the multitude of readily available media sources, undivided attention.  Thus, it should come as no surprise that consumers are frequently multitasking, particularly with other media.  82% of American adults (over 18) go online while watching TV and 43% of them make this a regular habit.  So, as sellers of media, the question arises:  Are these Media Multitaskers even noticing the advertising?  And where does digital fall in this picture?  New research from the IAB shows that they are indeed noticing the ads on both media and they’re even being influenced by them, especially digital.  

As media multitasking grows, it becomes increasingly important for media buyers and sellers to understand the place of media in this new environment and how to best reach consumers.  The IAB analyzed Prosper Insights data to examine the media behaviors and influence of habitual Media Multitaskers and the results are impressive

Media Multitaskers are more likely than the general population to notice TV commercials and digital ads and are more likely to have their purchases influenced by the media and ads that they’re taking in on either screen.  They’re 6 percentage points (ppt) more likely than the general public to report regularly watching TV commercials.  Media Multitaskers are 5 percentage points more likely to report that both Broadcast TV and Internet Advertising influence their Electronics purchases.  Fascinatingly, Internet Advertising and Email Advertising have a higher purchase influence on Media Multitaskers than Cable TV does.  For instance, 29% of Media Multitaskers state that Internet Ads and Email Ads influence their Electronics purchases while only 23% report that Cable TV influences those purchases.  Similar differences in ad influence are seen across product verticals.   

Who are these Media Multitaskers?  Media Multitaskers are more likely to be young, single, females of average income who are heavy media users, especially of digital media.  Within digital, they’re also heavier Video Streamers and users of Mobile and Social Media—all of which are more likely to influence their purchases.  In an average week (M-SU), they’re 10 percentage points more likely than the general population to surf the internet, where they are 14 ppt more likely to use social media and 8 ppt more likely to stream online radio.  Media Multitaskers are also 9 ppt more likely to regularly watch digital video either online or on a mobile device.  They’re more likely to own and use any mobile device.  Media Multitaskers are most active online during primetime TV viewing hours (8-11pm).  

Evidence points to Media Multitaskers integrating media together across screens.  For example, Media Multitaskers are more inclined to do an online search related to something they’ve seen on TV or in a digital ad.  About one-quarter to one-third report searching online as a result of what they’ve seen in an internet or email ad or on TV.  While searching, they’re more prone to be influenced by a sponsored search result - nearly half report doing so.  

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Compounding the impact of search, Media Multitaskers are more likely to regularly do online product research before buying and their #1 online activity for fun is shopping. Additionally, Media Multitaskers happen to be planning major purchases within the next 6 months, more so than the general population.  These major purchases include vacation travel, computers, furniture and autos.

But it’s not just about search.  Media Multitaskers integrate various media types and are influenced by all digital media ad formats.  29% of Media Multitaskers report that their Electronics purchases are influenced by Internet Advertising and Email Advertising (5 ppt and ppt more than the general population).  Media Multitaskers are much more likely to use any social media service and 21% are influenced by social media in their Electronics purchases.  65% stream video online and 59% report watching the video ads (5 ppt more than the general population).  20% report that their mobile device influences their Electronics purchases (+4 ppt). Digital media ad influence extends beyond Electronics purchases, as detailed in the report.

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All of this points to digital advertising as the place to reach the time-constrained, multitasking consumer.  Digital should be part of any integrated TV campaign, since digital is increasingly where TV viewers are taking action.  Those who are simultaneously surfing and watching are in fact reacting to what they’re seeing on each screen and the computer seems to be the screen in which they take their actions further.  They’re most likely to be simultaneously watching TV and online during primetime TV hours, so this is the place to hit them with an integrated campaign, which they can search about online, where they should encounter a related digital ad. 

Retailers too should consider digital as a component to their TV buys since Media Multitaskers are more likely to research online before buying and more likely to do their shopping online.  Media Multitaskers’ major purchase plans combined with the purchase influence of digital advertising formats create ideal conditions for digital advertising to them. 

Perhaps the most important reason to target this group is that since multitasking behavior is growing at a fast pace, today’s Media Multitaskers will soon become tomorrow’s typical consumers.  By embracing the new way consumers watch TV - which includes an online accompaniment - advertisers can meet consumers on their terms by offering an integrated brand experience across screens, thereby deepening their relationship with the consumer.


About the Author

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Kristina Sruoginis

Kristina Sruoginis is the Research Director at IAB.


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