Digital Media: Four Screens No Waiting [Chart]

How to create content for digital devices

The digital media landscape is in flux despite the fact that Americans spend over ten hours a day consuming content. A year after Apple introduced the iPad, Americans consume content on four major categories of devices: televisions, computers (including desktops, laptops and netbooks), tablets and smartphones. At the same time, content consumption continues to change and adapt with the evolution of devices and user functionality.

4 Major media screen types

Digital media devices fall into four major categories.

  1. Television. In 2010, television viewing , the grand-daddy of media consumption penetration, decreased from 98.9% to 96.7% according to The Nielsen Company. This decline is attributable to the 2009 shift to digital broadcasting and the weak economy.
  2. Computers including desktops, laptops and netbooks are projected to decrease over the next few years. Largely driven by consumers opting to buy tablets instead of netbooks. This decline could increase if tablets add features to enhance content creation such as separate keyboards.
  3. Tablets. Introduced by Apple last spring, these light-weight, content consumption devices have grown faster than forcasts and cover a wider range of activities that anticipated, most notably email. Further tablets aren’t for consumers only! Although portable, one of the distinguishing features of tablets is the lack of telephony.
  4. Smartphones continue to expand in the US. In essence, these phones are miniature computers. In addition to accessing the mobile Internet, they have voice and text messaging capabilities. Plus, they take photographs. While most smartphones provide maps and directions functions, some smartphones contain full GPS functionality.

4 Content consumption patterns

With the expanded choices of digital media devices, Americans’ content consumption has changed.

  1. Focused use is the traditional use of one device at a time, either passively as in television viewing or actively in terms of computer usage. It can include video-on-demand (VOD).
  2. Dual consumption is when the user performs one or more activities at the same time. It can involve any combination of the four devices. Concurrent usage increases content consumption.
  3. Information snacking allows the user to efficiently take advantage of otherwise wasted time such as when waiting for transportation. Often includes both content and communications consumptions, namely social media and email.
  4. Time-shifting occurs when the users view content at a different time that scheduled. It’s most common with television where it reduces advertising viewing. It also occurs with online communications and social networking.

4 Digital media devices in context

To understand how to incorporate these four digital media devices into your marketing plans, here’s a chart.

4 Content trends that affect marketing.

As a result of these technology changes, here are four factors that should be incorporated into your marketing plans for the rest of 2011.

  1. Email never dies. According to The Nielsen Company, email is the number two three activity on a computer and the primary activity on a smartphone (mobile internet). It’s how business and social media stay connected. Email usage on tablets makes them content creation devices. Therefore, don’t eliminate or underfund your email marketing, especially when it comes to building your house file. Consider how you’re going to continue to build a vibrant list that continues to grow.
  2. Social media connects. While Facebook has been the 900 pound gorilla of social media since last July, in aggregate, social media accounts for one out of every 4.5 minutes spent online according to The Nielsen Company. It’s the number two activity on smartphones. Based on sheer numbers, every marketer needs to incorporate social media in some format. The challenge is that social media is about the community, not the advertiser.
  3. Video crosses over. Video content is viewed across all four platforms and doesn’t replace any medium. From a marketing and media perspective, you need to ask what types of video will consumers look for and who will supply it. According to The Nielsen Company, a small segment of younger, urban consumers don’t pay for television subscriptions.
  4. Advertising adapts. Since marketers are still looking to build the customer bases and media entities needed to drive revenues, advertising models will continue to evolve to meet changing needs.

As a marketer, it’s critical that you provide for these different forms of content consumption across various devices to ensure that you’re able to capture your target market’s attention when and where they’re ready to pay attention to your message.

How do you see this digital device evolution? How do you foresee these trends playing out? Please include your perspective in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Note: These devices weren’t included in this analysis. While iPod and iTouch devices aren’t tablets they provide similar functionality with a smaller screen. eReaders and gaming devices aren’t covered in this analysis either, although their functionality is available on most tablets and smartphones

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