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Media Trends, is time the new media currency?

Media Trends, is time the new media currency? - by James Sparkes, Media Director  

“Time is money”, we’ve all heard that saying and we believe it is one of the truest sayings. Time is Money, no doubt about it, but from a marketing perspective how much is a consumers time worth?

We can’t actually answer how much a consumer’s time is actually worth to marketers as that would require a level of formulaic theory well beyond us, however, (we love ‘however’, it is more fancy than ‘but’), time is a hot commodity, hotly contested and one of the greatest challengers for marketer’s - taking some of the consumers time and trying to use it wisely.

There are many metrics used to measure various ad-exposures to a consumer… such as cost per thousand, cost per impact, cost per view, cost per engagement etc...should there be some combined metric for a percentage of a consumer’s media time they were exposed to a brand?

When you break down the hours spent each day that an individual actually consumes any given media, has the opportunity to market to them increased or decreased?

Let’s be clear - undoubtedly the number of available locations and options available to market to them has definitively increased, however, when broken up as a unit of time, is there more time for a marketer to message a consumer or less?

When I first started in the advertising industry, audience’s time spent consuming media was broken up between 5 or 6 different media vehicles. It was considerably easier to develop a media strategy to reach a defined target audience as the media options were far fewer. Modelling an investment strategy to achieve a certain reach and frequency of a defined target audience was far simpler as well.

The average consumer spends around 52hrs per week consuming media, with the vast majority of these hours spent in front of the box (around 35 hours)… TV was King!

Fragmentation in the early 2000’s was the media buzz word being used to explain diminishing returns for marketing dollars.  Not only was year on year industry inflation driving up costs, the need for greater diversity and greater investment was required to maximise exposure to audiences of whom were adopting new consumption habits as their media options expanded exponentially.

As an example of fragmentation – in 2008 Free to Air TV in Australia contained 5 channels. By Jan 2011 this has grown to 16 FTA stations. And by mid-late 2013 we said good bye to analogue.

Free to Air TV Trends

Outdoor has also evolved from just big roadside billboards, to an absolute array of different sizes, placements, mobile and an almost limitless array of ambient opportunities!

With the rise of digital, others mediums like magazines and press titles have been diminishing. However, it’s not a simple migration of an audience, of say a gardening publication, moving to a singular gardening website. Media consumption shifts have been far greater as the options available to consumers have also diversified.

So, with all these new options what consumption habits have changed? Particularly given humans tend to be creatures of habit. Well, the average consumer now actually spends MORE time consuming media than ever before.

Perfect...more opportunities and time to market to them we hear you say?
No, not so much the case. The real case here is that whilst they spend more time consuming media, that media is now split across more channels, websites, devices and mediums than ever before. So we’re now dividing up the media pie far more, with each and every piece of this media pie containing advertising.  Now we get back to our main question, the amount of time available to consume media? Increasing with the increasing channels? No - you now have less time as consumers spread their time over more channels.

The challenge for marketers is not that there is less time available to them to market to people… as time spent consuming media in Australia has increased. It’s just that within that time, consumers are exposed to considerably more messages, often multiple messages at the same time. And so grabbing their attention is becoming far more difficult.

So – what have we established?

To state the obvious, despite the availability of ‘big data’, highly refined targeting and more consumer insights available to marketers than ever before – it is now considerably harder to deliver advertising messages on scale as cost effectively as the good old days.

Highly targeted campaigns in many ways have become easier thanks to new technology.  However, due to costs of advertising on scale and a far more fragmented media landscape our ability to “introduce and influence” new customers to a brand is becoming more difficult (particularly for small to medium business working under more refined budget parameters).

A consumers’ time is not only hugely contested for time with ad-space – but their time is also aggressively chased by new websites, apps, social platforms who want to convert them into an ongoing user… so the competitive set has increased.

The available units of available time for any individual are still limited and won’t increase unless we manage to extend the length of a day and remove sleep from our lives. There is still ample opportunity to identify relevant opportunities to expose your campaign to your audience, the mix utilised just continually evolves and the need to be able to identify them across their various devices more important.

Competition for a consumer’s time both in terms of advertising and the array of media they consume is only going to grow! So if you feel Google CPC inflation costs are aggressive… think about what the costs of a year on year time scale might equate to!

There is far greater importance in terms of time researching the market/market audience required than ever before to ensure that advertising spends are being maximised to ensure maximum time of exposure to a target audience.

Media Consumption Australia 2014