The Multi-Device World of the Digital Omnivore: Part 1 of 2

November 2, 2016 mogointeractive

The Only Constant is Change

We live in a world where the only constant is change.  When we take a closer look at the trends concerning media consumption over the last five years, the rate of change is staggering.

The typical American is spending more time-consuming media than ever before.

eMarketer estimates the average American now consumes 724 minutes of media per day. By 2012, 90% of all media interactions were screen-based, and often across different connected devices (Google).  A more recent 2015 survey found 71% of respondents used 2 or more connected devices on a regular basis, and 50% used 3 or more.  In developed economies like the United States we’re seeing unprecedented levels of fragmentation across media.  With the fragmentation rises a new type of consumer, the digital omnivore.

A Brave New Multi-Device World

The digital omnivore is any person that regularly uses two or more devices to connect to the internet.  You may think the digital omnivore is a phenomenon that can be traced back to millennials, and while millennials tend to be more active multi-device users, various studies show that multi-device behavior is prevalent across all age groups, and continues to grow year after year.  Multi-device behavior is being primarily driven by smartphones and tablets.  A recent Deloitte study showed that smartphones are the most valued media product among those from ages 14 to 67.  Only those in the 68 and older segment ranked smartphones below first (ranked third).  Interestingly enough, the 68+ segment ranked their desktop computer at 1, and flat panel TV at 2.

People don’t just own more devices, they tend to use their connected devices simultaneously.  We use an average of 3 different screen combinations in a typical day (Google).  A large chunk of multi-device usage occurs while watching television, where the most popular combinations are TV-smartphone (81%) and TV-computer (66%).  Think about it- how often do you use a connected device to check email or Facebook while watching TV?  Consumers are also spending more time streaming television shows (24%) and movies (23%) on their connected devices.

While digital media and advertising are far more trackable than traditional media channels, the digital omnivore poses several challenges when it comes to planning campaigns and reaching multi-device users.  Perhaps the largest hurdle for marketers has been the inability to track certain types of user behavior, especially in mobile and cross-device environments.  Many Fortune 500 brands recognize that digital is not an “either-or” scenario.  These advanced marketers recognize the multi-device habits of their target audiences and often run TV commercials in conjunction with online video and display ads meant to reach consumers on their connected devices while watching television.

Cross-Device Measurement Comes of Age

For years, the ability to track the cross-device impact of digital media back to a single user has eluded marketers, that is, until quite recently.  Most media buying and analytics platforms are either limited or incapable in their multi-device targeting and measurement.  Only within the last few years have we seen the ability to track digital media delivery and user behavior across multiple devices.  This cross-device measurement is still in its nascent stages of development, and while there are dozens of tech firms working on their own version of cross-device tracking, only a small handful of players have cross-device measurement products on the market today.

In part 2 of the Digital Omnivore series (coming soon), we’ll take a deeper look at the importance of cross-device measurement, how and why it should revolutionize the way you buy digital media, and why it is fast becoming a requirement for digital marketers everywhere.