TV, video, iPads and all... we're undoubtedly in an interactive age. Fine, that's a given. How about those trends that seem to obsess marketers? Nielsen says that nearly 40% of people use TV and the web simultaneously each week in the U.S.... Marketers are running for that population. But what about the 'cord-cutting' phenomenon? And speaking of cutting cord (two words, this time), what do we know about the watching habits of Generation Y and its likely impact on consumption?... Read on.
Myth One: Targeting Simultaneous Users Of TV & Web
According to Nielsen, users are increasingly watching TV at the same time as they are surfing the web. The 40% figure is an average but habits vary significantly by age groups, with "51% of those 35 to 49 engaging in simultaneous usage and 47% of those over 50," the research firm said. That compares to merely 33% of the 12 to 17 year-old group and to 39% of those 18 to 34.
Just to give you an idea, back in March, Nielsen found in its first-quarter study that average time spent simultaneously using TV and Internet in the home grew 9.8%, to 3 hours and 41 minutes per month from a year ago.
However, as Howard Shimmel, Senior Vice President, Client Insights revealed at Nielsen's Consumer 360 conference, whether people are watching TV simultaneously or not, their browsing activities remain the same: they email, chat, shop... The only limit being for video sites like YouTube, as consumers don't watch on both screens at once. That's hardly surprising, who's never had the TV on while surfing away on the web? It calls for two separate senses (hearing and sight), whereas TV plus video requires to split both senses and direct them to two distinct sources. Too complicated... until we become bionic beings. Ahem.
Marketers, there you are, first myth debased.
Myth Two: Cord-Cutting
What's cord-cutting? Cord-cutting is when TV viewers turn their backs to their TVs - yes indeed - to switch to online video. For instance, it translates into cutting digital TV subscriptions, with all the implications of such decisions for networks and marketers. Shimmel (again), with support from his fellow VP, Media Analytics, Jon Gibs demonstrated how that phenomenon only applied to restricted demographics: namely, the younger segments. Those include college graduates who only subscribe to broadband service, middle-to-lower income households who have little interest in subscribing to digital cable, and finally, "young, emerging households."
These demographics "are typically light TV viewers who watch 40% less TV per day than the national average. And while they stream about twice the average amount of video, they still only stream about 10 minutes per day, hardly an indication of a monumental shift to online-only viewing," Nielsen noted. The research firm pointed out that although the number of users viewing online video per month rose 6% from last year, online video streaming only accounts for less than 2.5% of total video consumption across all demographics.
The biggest video streamers are aged 12 to 34. So the big question is...
GenY TV/Web Behavior
With on-the-fly devices such as the iPad (let's see who comes in next to compete), smartphones, laptops, netbooks and all... there is no doubt that younger generations are more tech savvy and increasingly mobile. And, not to forget our point, they seem more likely to drift away from traditional TV.
However, Nielsen's SVP of Consumer Insights, Dounia Turrill, explains that while the media usage of younger generations (12-24) in the U.S. differs significantly from that of older generations, the behavior of the younger generations is mostly driven by the context they find themselves in. Read: the reasons behind their current behavior is driven by "economic necessity and lifestyle choices"... And those are "likely to change as the younger becomes the older generation."
According to Turrill, media habits vary mostly according to people's life stages. She sees teens at home with their parents watching much more TV than their elders - college students or first-jobbers (18-24) who spend more time out (yes, "hanging out") or don't necessarily have TV screens in their dorms or rooms. Also, her take is that when the generation in question comes to the life stage of settling down, those populations will have the purchasing power and time to spend on watching TV. "The thesis is borne out by the behavior of previous generations, who started out watching low levels of television and then watched more as they aged," Turrill said.
Look at this graph:
As you see, the 2001 teens are watching more and more TV as they grow up, going from 25 hours a week then to over 36 hours as they hit the 25-35 age range.
Nielsen's first-quarter table of video use by medium (TV, web, mobile phone) and age groups below shows that evolution of growing TV use as populations age. When put in perspective compared other media-supported video use, it appears that Internet-supported video is most popular with 35-49 year-olds, while mobile-supported video reaches a peak with 25-34 year olds and TV is most successful with 50-64 year olds.
And there goes another myth...
Three myths debased. Marketers, this is good news... or is it really?