Audience Media Consumption Data: How To Improve Your Marketing

Audience Media Consumption DataNeed to attract your target audience’s attention?

Who doesn’t?

The challenge: In today’s content saturated environment, Media options and devices have shifted consumer media consumption behavior.

So, how do you succeed?

By understanding how your audience consumes media now. This includes their:

  • Media habits
  • Device usage
  • Content format preferences
  • Time of day or activities related to consumption
  • Willingness to pay for content and delivery options.


To help you, use this audience media consumption data to better understand your audience. As a result, you can:

  • Deliver your content when they most likely want or need it
  • Offer your information in the format they prefer and
  • Use the device and/or service they prefer.


Table of Contents:

Audience Media Consumption Data


Audience Media Consumption Research

To best understand audience media consumption, a variety of research sources were used. Each research effort surveyed or tracked different sample groups. As a result, their results vary.

Here’s how the surveys were compiled:

  • Nielsen Total Audience Report uses the company’s proprietary data that only measures US adults over 18. This research provides consistent information over 4 quarters from 3Q2017 through 2Q2018.
  • Salesforce fielded its Connected Audience Report in October 2017 to 3,080  global respondents and checked monthly usage. Unlike Nielsen, it provides a point-in-time snapshot.
  • Activate Research 2019 and 2018. In original research, Activate used a variety of sources to estimate results for key data points that don’t exist. Further, reports vary in content and focus from year to year.
  • Zenith Media forecasts media usage globally to support advertising media buys.


Audience Media Consumption Channels

To understand your audience’s media consumption, let’s examine the major options.

  • Broadcast television and radio consumption channels remain most used. Older segments prefer broadcast television while youngest segments prefer radio.  
  • Streamed video content use is almost double for youngest segments compared to the oldest segments.
  • Print media has reached a tipping point: 63% of respondents still read a print newspaper or magazine while 64% consume digital media. By age, younger segments increasingly seek digital content while older segments continue reading print. (Salesforce)
  • Streamed music including Pandora and Spotify remains a younger media behavior. So is downloading music. Younger segments are more likely to “rent” or stream content rather than own it. By contrast older age groups have experienced multiple music format changes during their lives.
  • Podcast data reveals an age basis as well where young listeners consume media at a higher rate than older listeners. This results from usage issues like being aware of podcast content and knowing how to access and download it.

What does this mean for marketers?

Your customer’s mindset when she consumes media matters more than the media format or device used. @HeidiCohenClick To Tweet

Channels for audience media consumption


Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Media Consumption:

  • Examine your content and media strategies based on audience intent and/or activity. Provide content when and where they need it.
  • Consider age and media preferences when creating your content marketing. Provide the content your audience wants on the device they prefer.


Audience Media Consumption By Source

Audience media consumption has shifted by platform, device, content format and price. While media consumption varies by age segment, consumption changes can increase and falloff at the same time among age segments. 

Media consumption can falloff and increase at the same time among age segments!

The key points are:

  • Video streaming both free and subscription dominate audience choices. Further, Millennials and Gen Zers stream video at higher rates for both free and paid options.
  • Social media consumption comes in second.  Again, younger segments use social media more than older segments. This makes sense since social media allows people to keep up with family and friends.
  • Music streaming ranks third. Again, younger segments use these services at higher rates.
  • Podcast listening remains flat. Roughly 1 in 5 consumers listen to podcasts. Further, podcast listeners have fallen off as much as they’ve stayed loyal to the media format. (BTW—Unlike other media formats podcasts ranks consistently across research options.)
  • Digital text content attracts a quarter of consumers across age groups. By contrast, print publications fell off the most across age groups. Digital content shows that consumers focus on the task, not the format or device.

Audience Media Consumption by Source


Actionable Marketing Tips Based on Media Consumption:

  • Focus on your sudience’s informatin needs first, then deliver content n the preferred format and device.
  • Include social media in your marketing mix because it’s where your audience regardless of age spends their time.
  • Provide quality niche content to compete with media entities.


Audience Media Consumption By Day:

Global Daily Media Consumption

Mobile media consumption will account for roughly one quarter of daily media consumption or 171 minutes in 2019. @ZenithClick To Tweet

By contrast, due to differences in reporting and device usage, Nielsen shows higher media consumption for Americans. A deeper look at their data reveals higher reporting for television and other home devices and lower reporting for digital devices.

Americans spend 10 hours 24 minutes consuming content per day, down 42 minutes from 11 hours 6 minutes in 2017. And this doesn’t include email or messaging!Click To Tweet

US Media Consumption Per Day - Nielsen

US weekly media reach by platform findings includes:

  • 92% of US adults listen to radio during the week. Interestingly the oldest media device has the greatest penetration.
  • 87% of US adults  watch either live or time-shifted television despite the rise of television alternatives.
  • 78% of US adults access an app or website via a smartphone. Since smartphones have outpaced other devices, think mobile-first for your marketing.

While Nielsen’s data provides a holistic view of American media consumption across dayparts, age, race and ethnicity, other data sources reveal important shifts in media consumption patterns.

Key Media Consumption Tipping Point:

Mobile media consumption will pass television media consumption in 2019 at 3 hours 43 minutes. @Zenith @eMarketerClick To Tweet

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Note: Zenith data refers to Internet usage; eMarketer data refers to mobile.

Further, note that this digital trend is global! (Zenith)

Internet Time Passes Television time in 2019

Average time spent per day with TV and mobile devices US Adults

Average daily internet & TB consumption by region

Q2 2018 Average time Spent Per Adult

Q 2 2018 Share of Daily Time Spent by Platform per Adult

Key US media consumption findings include:

  • Television remains the dominant media consumption device including live TV and time-shifted TV. Further, television prime time still exists and peaks at 9:00 pm.
  • Radio consumption has remained consistent as a percentage of total media consumption.  Even better, radio goes to work with consumption from 7:00 am until 5:00pm.
  • Digital devices including computers, smartphones and tablets are used all day from 9:00 am until 9:00pm. (Note: Nielsen appears to understate digital device usage compared to other sources.)
  • Tablets usage remains consistent across age groups. Further, tablets have become a relax-and-consume content device that’s part of everyone’s life. Btw – Tablet usage peaked in 2016.

Q2 2018 Daily Hours of Usave

Q2 2108 Shar of Daily Time Spent by Platform

Further, US media consumption varies by race and ethnicity.

Average Time Spent by Race/Ethnicity


Media Consumption By Content Format


Video Media Consumption Behavior

Video consumption has moved off the television and onto digital devices especially for Millennials and Gen Z. Further only the oldest age segment sticks to traditional television. @SalesforceClick To Tweet


The movement of consumers towards digital media and video consumption underscores this trend. Further almost no one buys (12%) or rents (8%) DVDs.

Notes: Nielsen reveals that the average US adult watches video for 5 hours 24 minutes but only 20 minutes occurs on digital devices. This seems low and may be attributable to Nielsen’s built-in television bias.

Key media consumption shift:

Millennials and Gen Zers move seamlessly across digital devices when consuming video media. Roughly one quarter of them begin viewing a TV show or movie on one device and finish on another device at a different time.

Audiences focus on task or goal, not the media platform or format.

Additionally this younger video audience looks for short, snackable video content on free services such as YouTube.

Video Consumption by Device

Video Media Consumption Habits

Consumers changed their video consumption habits to digital because it:

  • Is available anytime.
  • Offers wider variety of options.
  • Can be consumed on device of preference.
  • Is economical relative to other options.
  • Provides niche content for special interests. (Salesforce)


Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Video Consumption:

  • Create your content marketing to respond to your audience’s content objectives. Then transform into the formats they want and distributie it on their perferred platforms and devices.
  • Go deep on niche content where appropriate.


How Video Consumption Behaviors Change Media Entities

Changes in video media consumption have significantly altered media entities’ revenue streams.

Television will generate an estimated $197.4 billion in sales in 2019 from subscriptions, advertising and one-off purchases (such as video rentals). @ActivateClick To Tweet


Interestingly, the lion’s share of video media revenues will come from subscriptions, not advertising!

This shift reveals an underlying change in consumers’ willingness to pay for content.

Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Video Consumption:

  • Diversify your revenue streams. Consumers will pay for subscriptions that provide quality experiences.


Key Video Consumption Behavior: Subscription Video On Demand (or SVOD)

94% of SVOD subscribers have Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon Prime. (Activate) Subscription services provide video binge consumption opportunities by automatically serving viewers the next episode.

Younger adults, aged 18 to 24, tend to be cord-cutters since they prefer SVOD to paying for television. Additionally, this group willing goes through the hassle of piecing together content from the web This underscores the tradeoff of time for money.    Primary Pay TV Options

These SVOD content media consumption habits have changed your audience’s expectations for your content marketing!

  • 76% of consumers want original content that has limited distribution. If you want your audience to pay for content, scarcity and need are key factors.
  • 46% of consumers care about video content pricing. They don’t want to pay for content they don’t want and the price must reasonable. (Salesforce)

Further, US, customers spend $6.00 per month for an ad-free option which streaming service Spotify offers. (Salesforce)

Consumers pay these streaming video services because:

  • 47% wanted content aligns with “my” interests.
  • 34% wanted access to exclusive content. (No surprise since everyone wants the velvet rope treatment!)
  • 28% wanted personalized content recommendations. But be careful with user information and don’t be creepy!

Further, SVOD users often purchase at least 2 services. Further roughly one-fifth of respondents uses at least one service that allows multi-password users. As a result, SVOD users access more services than they pay for. (Activate)

Number of paid SVOD services
Actionable Marketing Tips Based On SVOD Video Consumption:

  • Offer niche content where possible.  
  • Give readers bonus information. (Who doesn’t want exclusives!)
  • Personalize your on-site visitor experience.


Audio Content Consumption

Audio content remains a core element of media consumption.


Because we’re drawn to the sound of the human voice that we learned as babies.

Beyond the spoken word used for news, sports and talk shows, we love listening to music, a consumption pattern that’s most pronounced among teenagers.

Here’s how we consume audio content globally:

  • 61% listen to audio via a car radio.
  • 58% listen to audio via a smartphone.
  • 47% listen to audio via a computer.
  • 26% listen to audio via a tablet.

While audio media options evolve and change with new formats and technologies, car radios provide a consistent listening environment especially for commute time.

Audio Content Consumption

What’s missing from this list?

Smart speakers provide an entryway to audio content consumption. Owned by roughly one quarter of US households, smart speaker fuel audio content consumption by serving:

  • 90% of smart speaker owners listen to music.
  • 68% of smart speaker owners listen to the news.
  • 52% of smart speaker owners listen to sports updates.
  • 45% of smart speaker owners listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

Smart Speaker Audio Activities

But digital options continue to gain traction. Unlike video and text media, audio content can be consumed while multitasking across a wide variety of activities beyond dual content consumption and consumption isn’t bound to a specific home or work location.

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For example with open plan offices and work in local coffee shops, workers consume audio media to block out noise and distractions.

Top Devices Used to listen to audio


Need to increase listeners for your podcast?
Use these top 10 apps to aid audio content discovery.

Installed Apps provide entryway to podcast listeners

Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Audio Media Consumption:

  • Deliver your marketing message, communications and/or content when your audience can’t focus on text or video.
  • Provide instructions explaining how to access and listen to your audio content since they may not understand how to use the technology, especially older age segments.
  • Tap into the potential of smart speakers to make your content findable and/or consumable.
  • Create an audio version of your content to reach a broader audience. Then distribute it via key audio engines.


Digital Media Content Consumption

While roughly half of global digital consumers say that having the latest technology is important to them, their digital device ownership isn’t representative of their digital usage and behavior. (GlobalWebIndex)

Digital Content Comsumption

Smartphones remain the key game changer for digital media and content consumption.

Because global consumers use their smartphones to access entertainment, news, information, research and social connections as well as to communicate.

For marketers this translates to changing how you build awareness, communicate and engage your audience, nurture your potential buyers towards purchase and/or generate earned content.


24% of all media consumption globally will be mobile in 2018, up from just 5% in 2011 according to @Zenith. Click To Tweet


To put this in context, examine this US mobile media consumption by day (Statista):

US Mobile Media Consumption Per Day

Note: Video and social media use overlap so that it’s difficult to see them separately.

In an era of having connectivity everywhere, provide diverse content experiences and applications that your audience can access directly.

To this end, focus on the mobile first consumer or risk losing them to your competition.

But don’t be too hasty to overlook tablets! With consistent usage across age groups tablets have become a lean back and relax device.

Instead take a more granular view to see how your audience uses different devices.

Because consumers turn to tablets for shopping related activities, even if tablets are used less overall!

Online behavior Tablets

For global owners of  computer, tablet and smartphones, they’re shifting their activities towards mobile for short information and communications. (GlobalWebIndex)

Top online behaviors where tablets and PCs are falling behind smartphones

Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Digital Media Consumption:

  • Make your digital content mobile first.
  • Provide for tablet experiences, especially targeted at shoppers. Support tablet oriented digital content by focusing on platforms and apps that support this type of content discovery and consumption such as Pinterest and Flipboard.


Cross Channel Media Engagement: Multi-screening and Other Options

Consumers use television and video time to engage in multitasking, most often in the form of multi-screening. While the formats differ, this behavior isn’t new since television viewers have done it for years.

59% of viewers do something unrelated on digital media to the content they were consuming.

Dual media consumption offers good news for marketers (despite different specific data points vary due to research source.)

  • 63% of people search for something related to the content they were consuming.
  • 45% of viewers check on advertised products. (Salesforce)

Additionally, 45% of viewers email or message about the content (Nielsen).

Dual media consumption frequently helps get potential buyers to find out more about your company and offering.

Further Millennials and Gen Zers are 2.7x more likely than older adults to use social media to engage about content they’ve consume in a given month.

cross channel media engagement


While most television viewing audiences use more than one screen at least monthly, they’re seeking more content from you! (Nielsen)

One screen is not enough

Actionable Marketing Tips Based On Dual Media Consumption:

  • Optimize search aligned with your video and audio content. This also applies to your television and radio advertising.
  • Tap into the power of concurrent viewer messaging. Encourage video viewers to share their experience. Also, let viewers communicate their findings with others involved in the purchase process.
  • Offer chat messaging as part of the video viewing process to answer questions as they occur.
  • Monitor social media for engagement and mentions related to your video and audio content.


Audience Media Consumption Data Conclusion

Audience media consumption has shifted.

In large part this is attributable to increased use of digital devices and related media formats and options.

As a result, your audience’s mindset matters more than the media device or format.

This trend is most obvious among younger age segments who move seamlessly from digital to offline devices.

What does this mean for you as a marketer?

Focus on your audience’s needs or goals for seeking the information. Then make it findable across platforms and content formats on their time schedule, not yours!

This means providing content, communications and information your target audience seeks in content formats that allow your customers to change platforms and devices seamlessly.

Specifically adapt your marketing offering to conform to your audience’s current media consumption habits.

To this end, view your content as fulfilling a specific need and then offer it to your audience in a variety of formats and platforms so they can choose how they want to consume it.

Further with increasing mobile usage, make your marketing mobile first. Otherwise you risk being left out of the consideration set.

By adapting to your audience’s evolving media consumption habits you increase your marketing’s ability to break-through.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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