The changing media landscape

Have you ever stopped to think about just how different your media usage is now compared to two years ago, or five? Did you always have your cell phone with you three years ago? Did you feel completely tethered to email six years ago? Do you even remember when you got your first email address? Those of us who recall the world before the Internet, and whose first cell phones included pull-up antennas, may find this “remember when” game entertaining to play. But it speaks to a larger point about just how much – and how quickly – the technology and media landscape changes, and how important it is keep tabs on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Especially for those of us who are trying to reach customers through these ever-changing channels. For 20 years, Arbitron and Edison Research have been conducting a national survey around media usage. They just released the results of the 2012 study, which has page after page of interesting statistics, such as:
  • 88% of the population owns a cell phone. Smartphone ownership has tripled during the past 2 years, and now half of all cell phone owners have a smartphone. And 60% of them say it’s always within arm’s reach! (Myself included!)
  • Nearly half of consumers say that of the options – TV, radio, newspaper, internet – the internet is the most important to their lives. That’s up from just 20% 10 years ago.
  • Over half of all Americans have at least one profile on a social networking site – perhaps not surprisingly, Facebook was the most popular.
The piece of information I found most interesting – and most important for marketers – though? When all of the data was looked at holistically, Arbitron and Edison Research noticed that usage of one medium does not necessarily preclude usage of others. And especially among heavy users of these platforms: heavy TV users still use radio and internet frequently, heavy internet users still use radio and TV frequently, and so on. This is an important thing to keep in mind, when trying to communicate to your target audience – using all the channels that your customer has access to will allow you to have a broad and effective reach. This doesn’t mean that you simply say the same thing over and over again on TV, radio, and the internet. Rather, you should tailor your message in a way that’s appropriate for each channel – maybe design an engaging mobile app that supports the traditional advertising campaign, and then have a shareable social media component as well. After all, as long as your audience is using all of these channels, shouldn’t we as marketers be as well?