NEWS19 June 2024

Multi-tasking consumers should prompt rethink on ad measurement, says Bain report

Media News North America Trends UK

US – High rates at which consumers are multi-tasking while consuming media should force a rethink on how advertisers measure success, with an emphasis on engagement over reach, according to a Bain & Company report. 

backs of people's heads as they sit on couch looking at a tablet in front of the TV

Advertisers must confront a “radical disruption” of existing models of success because a juggling of tasks and devices is distracting consumers, at the same time as attention spans are declining and overall time spent on media also dips.

The research found that, across media formats, an average of around 75% of media users multi-task, and over 60% of media users simultaneously consume multiple forms of media content.

The data is part of management consultancy Bain & Company’s annual Media and Entertainment Review, Creativity Can't Stand Still, based on its consumer media consumption survey of almost 5,000 consumers.

Jeff Katzin, a partner in Bain & Company’s Media & Entertainment practice, said: "This is a whole new set of challenges for advertising and marketing leaders – potentially a universe of confusion. It’s going to force many advertisers to rethink long-established ways they go to market, including how to monetise attention in addition to reach. 

"Creative organisations are also going to have to innovate in creative breakthrough ways that grab attention and engagement across platforms. They may not view that as a ‘new’ imperative, but innovative uses of creative and technology will be critical."

Bain’s research finds that around three-quarters of people multi-task while consuming media, with over 60% consuming multiple media formats simultaneously. 

For social media, 75% of consumers also use other media simultaneously, and so are distracted by other formats from audio to video to television. Social media users say they are only focused entirely on a social platform they are using for just 10% of the time they’re using it.

For consumers streaming video, 65% of consumers state that they use other media at the same time, usually scrolling on a mobile phone. Even when using video games, often regarded as more commanding of user attention, the data shows that almost 70% of consumers are multi-tasking, with 65% of them doing so with other media.

At the same time as advertisers are having to contend with consumers becoming more distracted, they are also seeing total media consumption fall, from around 13 hours a day in 2021 to around 12 hours now.

"These changes in how people consume media have huge implications for advertisers because reach is no longer engagement," said Nicole Magoon, a partner in Bain & Company's Media & Entertainment practice.

"If people are paying less attention to their media, they're also paying less attention to ads. That means lower engagement, lower sales, and CPM re-evaluation. But there is plenty of scope for media companies to lean into these trends, to rethink and to adapt to the changing landscape. 

“If you know someone is scrolling Instagram while streaming your show, you can – for example – have a live tie-in to drive engagement with characters and with shoppable content in the feed. The imperative is to reimagine current models that are threatened by the trends we're seeing."