Content Consumption: How We Consume Content Now (and What It Means For Your Marketing!)

5 types of content consumptionWhat are your Content Consumption Habits?

Chances are you have one or more devices within arm’s reach.

Don’t worry you’re not alone!

71% of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphone (Bank America research).

And this doesn’t include smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

BTW, roughly 7 out of 10 of Americans use their phones while on the toilet. #NoJudgement! and 1 in 10 has a smart spark in their bathroom (Source.)

The reality:
We live in a multi-device world where we use a variety of different devices for different tasks. Further, these connected devices may have a screen and/or voice functionality.

Your content marketing gets delivered in a variety of formats to different contexts wherever, whenever and however your audience needs it via the device(s) of their choice.

So you need to be prepared to deliver your information to meet your audience’s needs based on their content consumption habits. To help you, we’ll define and examine the 5 types of content consumption to help improve your marketing results.

US Content Consumption By The Numbers (2021)

Depending on your age, location and lifestyle, the number of screens you view in a day can increase, especially in cities. Other screens include gaming devices, car-related devices and out-of-home screens.

In case we’re unable to stop and look, we’ve also got Siri and Alexa, our smart voice assistants ready to answer our voice commands.

As marketers we should love all of these screens and voices since they transmit information into which we can insert messages to grab consumers’ attention.

The average US adult 18+ spends about 12.5 hours with media per day. (Source: Activate 2021) Of this:

  • 5 hours are spent with video across devices; a closer look reveals a move away from traditional television towards streaming and other forms of video.
  • 2.5 hours are spent with audio including radio, voice and other devices, and
  • 1 hour is spent communicating via social media and other forms of messaging.

Average Day by Activity per adult

While this connected consumption has increased over time, it’s important to realize that there’s an upper bound to this activity. Further, post-pandemic, people are more interested in face-to-face human contact so there’s the potential for these results to decline.

Average daily internet and media attention per US adult

BTW, it’s not just consumer-oriented (aka: B2C) content marketing, it’s also content consumption of B2B content marketing. (Netline)

Content Consumption: 5 Types Defined [Infographic]

Content consumption is defined as how your content audience reads, views and/or listens to information and data related to your business and marketing. With the ever-increasing number and type of devices, platforms, interfaces and apps, you must understand how your content consumers get the most value out of the content you lovingly create.

Actionable Marketing Implication:

  • Ensure your content can meet each person’s consumption desires in terms of device and content format and constraints such as time.
5 type of content consumption

Examine how the 5 types of content consumption can improve your marketing.

5 Types of Content Consumption

With the expansion and introduction of more and different devices, content consumption has evolved into 5 distinct types. Each content consumption type depends on the reader’s context when seeking the information and type of devise(s) available. In addition, the available amount of time to consume the information and the time sensitivity means you must offer different quality options to meet their needs.

1. Focused Content Consumption

Is when you concentrate all of your attention on one form of content from one device at a time. For example, when you read a book or white paper on a tablet. This can happen via an app such as Kindle.

Marketing Implications:

  • Remind user to return and finish content.
  • Allow user to consume content via different devices based on context when consuming content. For example, allow a reader to read on their tablet and smartphone.
  • Encourage user to share and/or review your content.

2. Multi-input Content Consumption

Using two or more devices at the same time to consume content. Often to allow multitasking. As a result, it reduces user focus and comprehension.

Dual content consumption isn’t new. For example, people have listened to the radio or television while doing something else as their main activity.

Now, multi-input content consumption allows for engagement with the same or different content via different platforms or devices For example, commenting on social media while watching a television show or attending a live event.

Marketing Implications:

  • Increase your audience by reaching people while doing something else, such as driving.
  • Improve user understanding by adding other content formats and/or information.
  • Allow users to talk to you directly via chat or human.

3. Information Snacking Consumption

Allows your audience to multi-task with time-filler content. It takes advantage of otherwise wasted time to catch up on the latest from family and friends or to stay ahead of email.

It’s part of the reason people can have over 24 hour days since they’re doing more than one thing at a time.

Most commonly, this behavior takes place while waiting to do something else. Since this isn’t deep concentration, make your content attractive and easy to consume.

It includes checking email, social media and other content via a smartphone while waiting for mass transportation or in a meeting.

Marketing Implications:

  • Make your content attention grabbing and skimmable.
  • Add functionality to get your audience to return to get more information.

4. Content Binging

Is consumption of multiple portions of content in a single session.

Content binging evolved out of the ability to watch an entire season of content in a one or more sittings. While most frequently television shows and video, it can be applied to other forms of content.

The key to content binging success:

Your ability to hook your audience and keep them wanting more. So plot out your episodes in advance.

Marketing Implications:

  • Create must-consume quality content to engage audience.
  • Hook consumers to keep going for multiple consumption sessions.

5. Time Shifted Content

Allows your audience to save content for future consumption.

While this behavior started with DVRs and other recording devices, it has diminished the value of “appointment media”, content that had to be consumed at a specific time and potentially at a specific location.

the key to time shifted content success is sending one or more follow ups to get your audience to consume it without making a nuisance of your business.

Marketing Implications:

  • Remind your audience to consume and share the content.
  • Allow them to contact you via chat or human if they want to.Note: The majority of smartphone and tablet time is spent in apps versus on the mobile web.


Content Consumption: 5 Actionable Marketing Tactics To Improve Your Results

Man sitting while using smartphoneTo reach the maximum potential audience, understand the marketing implications of these 5 types of content consumption. So you allow your audience to choose how, when and where they decide to read, watch or listen to your content.

1. Convert content into different formats

Expand your potential audience by offering multiple content formats. This allows people to consume your content the way that’s easiest for them.

The 5 common content formats:

  • Text Is often the easiest content to create.
  • Visuals Include photographs, gifs, images, charts and infographics to explain your ideas. At a minimum, augment your text with images to increase comprehension.
  • Video combines streaming visual with audio. To get audio only, just strip out the images. It can be live-streamed or prerecorded. Also, post across various social media options including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Audio/Voice. Allows listeners to hear your content. It can involve one or more people. It remains a constant of commuters’ content consumption whether radio or podcasts.
  • Live/Webinar. Enables your audience to not only hear and view your content presentation, but also to experience it.

2. Format content for different content consumption types

Present your content to facilitate different types of content consumption. This translates to:

  • Make your content easy-to-scan. No one wants to read dense text. Use bolding, outlining, simple language and images. Include a clickable Table of Contents near the top so your audience can skip to the sections theywant.
  • Offer the ability to time shift consumption. Where possible, facilitate later consumption. Depending on your content, it can include tools like Pocket, Flipboard or Feedly for online content, a Kindle Reader or iBooks for ebooks and a DVR or other recorder for television or video content.
  • Support binge consumption. With increased cord cutters, television services like NetFlix, Amazon and Hulu have improved packaging for binge consumption options. Package your content to support binge consumption. Present curated content and related content together

3. Distribute across multiple platforms over time

Give your audience a variety of options for discovering and receiving your content. Include both online and offline media entities as well as free and paid (aka: advertising) options.

Maximize your content amplification during the first 3 days after publication and continue distributing it as long as it remains relevant.

  • Owned media including website, blog and email.
  • Social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Also include LinkedIn Publishing and Medium depending on your business focus.
  • Third party media including amplification sites (like and Reddit), top blogs, and stand alone media entities. Where relevant include press releases.


4. Optimize content to maximize findability by your audience

Allow your audience to discover your content in different ways. Offer prospects multiple ways to communicate with you. Include physical address, phone number, text message, reservation sites, and even fax (Yes I know it’s old school!)

  • Search engines. Include more than Google and Bing. Over 40% of shoppers start on Amazon.
  • Mobile search. May not be the same as desktop search options.
  • Rating and review sites (such as Yelp and TripAdvisor). Can be where your audience turns for pre-purchase input especially when they’re on-the-road.
  • Voice search. Be findable by a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service such as Siri, Alexa or Google Home.
  • Image search. Continues to improve.

5. Have connected content to maximize your ability to capture visitor email addresses.

Since it’s expensive and competitive to attract prospects and leads, use every opportunity to capture email addresses. Don’t bombard them with promotions. Instead, build relationships over time. Remember your house email file is a corporate asset.

The 5 types of connected content are:

  • Contact Us. Answer questions and close sales.
  • About Us. Gives your business a human face.
  • Landing Pages. Offer a reason to capture information. Can be tailored to specific needs.
  • Thank You Pages. Show the visitor that their information was submitted. Also provide gated content and upsells.
  • Welcome Series. Help deepen your relationship.


5 Types of Content Consumption Conclusion

Your audience uses 5 different methods of content consumption to maximize their efficiency and to accomplish the most they can during their waking hours.

The 5 types of content consumption include: Focused consumption, dual consumption, information snacking, time shifted content, and content binging.

Create and transform your content to enable readers to consume your information when, where and how they wish in order to reach your maximum potential audience.

Otherwise, they’re likely to move on to what they consider to be more important content to achieve their goals and fulfill their needs.

This will leave your content unread. Even worse it’ll fail to attract an audience or buyers.

Instead adapt your content to be the best option for them!

Happy marketing,

Heidi Cohen
Actionable Marketing Guide

PS: I’d be thrilled if you subscribed to the weekly Actionable Marketing Guide Newsletter (aka: AMG Newsletter). It’s my view of what’s happening in marketing from the home of the original MadMen, New York City!


Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 29, 2012. It was extensively updated on November 16, 2017 and again on July 8, 2021.

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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