Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Americans consuming more media, but also more distracted

Smart B2B marketers are embracing the multi-tasking consumer with relevant multi-platform campaigns. Hiring, pay trends bode well for marketers.

New research from Abritron and Edison Media Research indicates that Americans spend about 20 percent more time consuming media (traditional and new media) than they did 10 years ago. Researchers attribute this to the widespread adoption of smartphones and a 26 percent rise in the number of Americans with access to the Internet. Researchers say U.S. consumers now spend 8 hours and 11 minutes per day with radio, TV and the Internet, up from 6 hours and 50 minutes a day in 2001. But are they really paying attention commensurately.

Our take? As a whole, these numbers are quite plausible, but the amount of time consumers and business decision-makers are giving media their undivided attention has likely gone down. Younger consumers are particularly oriented to multi-tasking and the savviest marketers have learned to embrace this trend, rather than fight it.

Keep this in mind as you pore over recent reports from a number of highly reputable pundits and research firms who’ve been lamenting the apparent mismatch between media consumption patterns and media dollars received. Despite the projection that online advertising will increase its share of US major media ad spending by more than 10 percentage points between 2009 and 2015, spending on digital, including internet and mobile, has not yet risen to match consumption patterns, according to research firm eMarketer.

Among the major media of television, Internet, radio, mobile, newspapers and magazines, US adults still spend the most time each day with TV. Researchers at eMarketer estimate that adults watched television for 42.9 percent of the time they spent each day with those media in 2010, and ad dollars align closely, at 42.7 percent. The Internet, by contrast, took up 25.2 percent of adults’ daily media time in 2010, but received just 18.7 percent of US ad spending.

“Those of us focused on the internet channel have complained for years that it hasn’t been getting its fair share of media dollars based on time spent,” said eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey in a statement. “However, the precise extent of that imbalance has been shrouded in mystery and exaggeration. Now we know—it’s a gap of 6.5 percentage points.”

Allen Mutter, author of the popular Newsosaur blog observes that newspapers have lost nearly half of their ad revenues in the last five years, yet some analysts believe they still are getting three times more advertising than their readership deserves.

Because the allocation of ad-market share is a zero-sum game, print has to be benefitting at someone's expense. And two notable victims, in this case, are Internet and mobile advertising.

As Mutter notes, the most egregious mismatch discovered by the eMarketer study found that only 0.5 percent of advertising goes to mobile phones even though people spend more than 8 percent of their media time using them. With 25 percent of media mindshare devoted to the Internet and barely 19 percent of ad dollars going to the web, it is being shortchanged, too. This is good news for newspaper publishers because it proves that they have done an excellent job to date of convincing marketers of the value of their medium. Yes, they’ve cornered a disproportionate share of advertising in comparison to other media. We’ll have to see how the pay wall experiment at The New York Times and other leading dailies plays out.

Our take? We salute the time the Times for taking bold action, but it’s just too hard to get savvy consumers to pay for something they’ve been used to getting for free. The Times’ tiered subscription offering is just too confusing—both for subscribers, casual readers and their own customer service department too handle right now—and that will have costly bottom line ramifications down the road. We also expect savvy readers to go in via the backroom of blogs and social networking sites to get the NYT articles they want without being subject to a direct pay-per-read tax. There are simply too many other places to get one news in real-time for free.

Hiring, pay trends bode well for marketers

Companies are shelling out for seasoned marketers with e-commerce skills according to executive search firm, Crandall Associates. VP’s of e-Commerce are commanding $113K to over $200K with Internet marketing directors and interactive creative directors not far behind. What’s more, about 20 percent of those senior marketing folks expect to be hiring themselves in Q2, says Crandall. Meanwhile, new hiring data from Robert Half Associates says 20 percent of companies are looking to hire those with social media skills and 16 percent are looking to hire those with media services expertise. This data mirrors overall corporate hiring trends. Last week, Business Roundtable’s quarterly survey of CEOs found that 52 percent of companies planned to hire workers in the U.S. over the next six months and just 11 percent said the plan to reduce their workforces. That’s the widest gap hiring versus cutback gap ever recorded in the nine-year history of the survey.

And what kind of social marketing activity demonstrates the best ROI for companies? Almost three in five (59%) companies surveyed by said “Ratings and reviews” provided the most bang for the buck, followed by “Your company/brand community” (56%) and “Your company/brand blog” (48%). These activities outpaced such tactics as “Participating in industry blogs and forums, Facebook, Twitter and Linked In (41% to 28% respectively).

So, it looks like companies are willing to pay more for real talent again instead of hiring what they can get at recession-era bargain rates. We’re betting that the next wave of high performing marketers are not only those with in-demand skills today, but those who can adapt their skills—and campaigns—to meet an ever-changing set of market conditions.


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