Content Marketing: The Multi-screen Consumer

Connected Devices Affect Content Marketing [14 Charts]

1978  television-connected device of pastWith the ever-expanding dynamic media offering, consumers have become content omnivores accessing information in ways that improve their lives when and where they need it. As a result, marketers are playing catch up with consumers’ content needs and modes of usage.

Based on research by Edison Research and Arbitron, these fourteen data charts and related actionable content marketing tips should help keep your efforts aligned with your target audience.

Consumer spend one third of their time engaged with media.

Consumers spend an average of 8 hours and 15 fifteen minutes with a single form of media, specifically television, Internet and radio. These figures don’t include traditional offline media such as newspapers and and magazines. This is an increase of over one hour in the last ten years. In part this is attributable to the use of mobile devices enabling consumers to consume content during otherwise wasted time in the form of content snacking.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Time spent per day with media

New devices are additive; they don’t replace older devices. They tend to extend the audience’s time so that heavy consumption of one media doesn’t decrease other media usage. Consumers are moving beyond the television and the computer with smartphones, tablets and other products such as ereaders and gaming devices. (As a point of reference, here’s earlier multi-device research from Performics and ROI Research and here’s research from Google, Ipsos and Sterling Research on this topic.)

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Heavy Media Usage across devices

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Provide information via a variety of channels. To maximize your reach, use multiple content channels.
  • Offer information in both snackable and long formats. Let your audience decide how much information they want to consume.
  • Appeal to different content consumption preferences. Bear in mind that not all consumers like to read. Give them a choice of how they can take in your information whether it’s text, visual or audio.

Consumer media platform use expands

Consumers have increased their use of media platforms during the last ten years. They’ve added home broadband, WiFi and smartphones. While Internet usage has increased 30% since 2003, both television and radio use has also increased although to a lesser degree.

Edison-Arbitron_Media Usage 2013

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Use television for broad reach. For mass marketing it’s difficult to match television’s  reach despite the introduction of new media channels.

The number of Homes with five or more WiFi devices is increasing

About a quarter of US home have five or more WiFi enabled devices. Given the high rate of growth of multi-device households, it’s difficult to infer how consumers are using them.

Edison_Research_Arbitron- 5 or more devices in wifi house

About a quarter of homes have three or more working computers. This has remained roughly constant for the last four years. Since households with five or more WiFi enabled devices has increased, this means families are supplementing their computer use with other devices.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Computers at home

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Ensure  your content and communications are accessible across a wide variety of devices so consumers can find your information regardless of platform they choose.

Smartphone ownership exceeds 50% in the US

An estimated 139 million people in the US own a smartphone an increase of nine percentage points from 2012. These devices aren’t your father’s telephone. Instead these multi-function devices are a conduit for a variety of different types of content including text, photographs, social media, games, video and audio (including calls and music.) This means you must mobilize your marketing.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Smartphone Ownership

Smartphone ownership increased across age groups in 2013. Three-quarters of 18 to 34 years now own a smartphone.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Smartphone Ownership by Age

Roughly four out of five smartphone users have their phone within reach most of the time. These are the ultimate personal devices. Owners can stay on top of what’s happening with their family, friends and social media colleagues. Edison_Research_Arbitron-Smartphone in reach

Since smartphones have broad functionality, it’s almost surprising that the top activity smartphone owner activity is making or receiving calls (97%). More than nine out of ten do this at least daily. Sending or receiving texts is the second most popular activity although only eight out of ten do it daily. Using a smartphone to take pictures is the third most popular smartphone activity done by 90% of owners, but only two out of five owners do so daily. Rather browsing the web is the third most popular daily activity. Retailers take note: one quarter of smartphone owners have accessed retail coupons.

Edison_Research_Arbitron- Smartphone activity

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Top 3 daily activities

Smartphone owners between 12 and 24 communicate with family and friends differently than other age segments. Overwhelmingly, they text at twice the average rate. Further they use the phone’s talk functionality about half the average rate. What’s interesting is that about one in ten uses Facebook to communicate.


Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Smartphones provide the means for true one-to-one communications. Create the means to leverage this power. For example, offer customers in your retail establishment or your competitor’s an incentive such as an instant discount.
  • Ensure content is viewable and findable on smartphones. This means creating a  a mobile app or a tailored mobile website that’s focused on one or two functions and loads quickly.
  • Give prospects and customers a choice as to how to get your content. Think mobile app, website, text or email. Remember, smartphones are personal devices so ensure that your message is desired and not viewed as intrusive.
  • Find a way to incorporate prospects and customers’ photographs. Since taking photos is the third largest smartphone activity, get your audience involved through the use of their images.

Television: No longer appointment consumption

While television viewing continues to increase, consumers are no longer restricted to watching a specific show at a specific time. Instead many viewers are choosing television on their time schedule and on the device of their choice. Almost half of Americans have a DVR to record television shows they might otherwise miss and view them when they have time.


Television viewing doesn’t necessarily involve a television. For 12 to 34 year olds, television viewing it more likely to occur on a desktop computer (30%), a tablet (12%) and/or cellphone (12%).

Edison_Research_Arbitron-TV Viewing

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Give viewers a reason to watch your television shows, especially if you want them to see it at its scheduled time. Create a reason for viewers to tune in on time such as providing additional engagement methods such as social media. Alternatively, offer additional content that can only be viewed on a connected device. For example, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do this.
  • Format television content for digital device viewing using a variety of platforms including a computer, smartphone or tablet. Note that younger viewers shift their television viewing location as well as time.

Tablet ownership continues to grow

Tablet ownership has increased over 70% in the past year. A deeper look reveals that Apple iPad ownership has expanded slightly while non-iPad tablets have doubled! Interestingly, 3% of owners have more than one device with different operating systems.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Tablet ownership

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Make your content viewable on a tablet. This can be challenging since there are a wide variety of brands and competing systems. To this end, use responsive design.
  • Provide the type of content consumers seek on tablets. Tablets offer a good environment for presenting your product using an enriched media experience (think magazines and Internet combined.)

Consumer media consumption continues to increase but smartphones are the prime content marketing real estate. This is despite their small size relative to televisions, computers and tablets. Devices often influence the way content is consumed. To engage their target audiences, marketers must follow their consumers and provide content that meets their their needs on the devices and platforms they prefer to use.

What has your experience been trying to reach your target audience on multiple devices with differing content formats?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



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Photo Credit: (Note: Modified by Heidi Cohen)


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