The conclusions were drawn from data compiled by BIGResearch in their Simultaneous Media Usage Study, an ongoing panel that has collected more than 120,000 survey responses since late 2005. The panel is one of the most comprehensive and detailed that I am aware of and endeavors to accurately detail the time consumers spend with various media, how they respond to advertising and how they use media simultaneously. It focuses specifically on the impact of advertising in nine retail categories, which make up the basis of the companys consulting focus.

We make the mistake of thinking of the consumer as a monolith, Schultz said. Consumers are constantly multi-tasking, disrupting mono-focused media metrics. To build an effective marketing plan, find the consumers who have money and watch what they do. Ultimately, youll realize that the best way to drive marketing results is to use media combinations that the consumers use, not just pick discrete media formats.

Recent changes in how consumers are interacting with media demonstrate the value of that perspective. As consumer confidence has declined over the past two years, their use of media has changed. Interestingly, direct mail and radio usage has increased, while newspaper, television and internet usage has declined.

The shift in all media usage is particularly pronounced since June 2007. The data feels counter-intuitive on the surface: accelerating media usage during the boom and declining media usage during the contraction. The answer may be in the pace of consumer consumption. During the period of high consumption, consumers were using media to help source, compare and purchase goods. In a period when they are reducing consumption, perhaps consumers are reducing usage of media in order to diminish to the endless ads that remind them of activity they can no longer pursue.

As usage has declined, so has the impact of certain media formats on influencing purchasing decisions. According to Schultz, the influence of most traditional media is declining, TV, newspapers and magazines down according to the SIMM metrics. The influence of traditional web sites has declined as well, while blogs have become a viable influencing category, along with e-mail.

As the pace of the economy slows, and consumer confidence ebbs, the levels of media usage and impact change as well. That marketing approaches need to accommodate that shift is Schultz mantra and the data supports him.

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