Where U.S. Adults are Spending Most of Their Time with Media

Written by Team SI on Monday, July 08, 2019


Marketers need to switch their mindset when it comes to getting consumers to interact with media. According to eMarketer, the time that U.S. adults are projected to spend with media in 2019 has barely increased, going up by just one minute from 2018 (12 hours 8 minutes per day to 12 hours 9 minutes). Instead of spending more time with media altogether, a shift is happening in the mediums people use to consume media. Obviously, some platforms are more popular than others, which means marketers have to be smart about reaching consumers on the mediums where they are the most. Let’s look at where that is exactly.

eMarketer says of the 12 hours and 9 minutes estimated to be spent with media this year, digital media is far overtaking traditional. Digital gets 6 hours 35 minutes of the pie, TV sits at 3 hours 35 minutes, radio at 1 hour 20 minutes, and newspapers and magazines have a combined total of 20 minutes.

Under the digital media umbrella, time spent with digital video and audio is gaining. In 2016, digital audio sat at an average of 1 hour, but that’s expected to hit 1 hour 20 minutes this year. Digital video is expected to see an increase of 12 minutes from 2018, hitting 1 hour 37 minutes. Despite the fact that digital video and audio are increasing and ad-free platforms are becoming more common, marketing experts don’t believe they will overtake time spent with TV any time soon.

Sticking with digital, you might be surprised to hear that the momentum for time spent on smartphones is decreasing, though it still wins out over the adult population. Growth in time spent with social media has nearly stalled, and it’s definitely happening less and less on desktops and laptops, which has gone down to just 3 minutes per day as opposed to mobile’s social media usage of 49 minutes.

Moving on to TV, this platform is projected to have the biggest decline this year, with time spent clocking in at 3 hours 35 minutes, a decrease from the 3 hours 44 minutes consumed in 2018. That represents only 29.5 percent of the time spent with media overall. eMarketer says TV’s heavier decline could be because it has the most to lose. Experts say fewer people are watching TV and those who do watch it are consuming less of it. But taking a closer look at the average time spent by age groups, it looks better for TV in some areas. eMarketer says Baby Boomers spend the most time watching TV (5 hours 9 minutes projected in 2019), followed by Gen Xers at 3 hours 28 minutes and Millennials at 2 hours 6 minutes. Even with an average for all U.S. adults of 3 hours 35 minutes, time spent with TV still tops the time spent with digital video.

The bottom line – of course, you’ll want to focus on your target populations and interacting with them on the medium they spend the most time with. Also consider that your best strategy is likely to hit multiple platforms for a greater chance of having your advertisement seen and remembered by a consumer, potentially turning them into a customer.

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