You Do This More Than Sleeping And Working

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People spend more than half of their day consuming media.

Making a statement like that should make you look at this Blog post with your head titled sideways and your eyebrows raised – the way a dog looks when you talk to it. I can’t make this stuff up. "Citing a new Ipsos OTX study of 7,000 online consumers ages 13 to 74, Friend said that thanks to smartphones and laptops, people are now spending one-half of their waking days interacting with media, and have increased their media consumption by an hour per day over the last two years. That’s more time than they spend working or sleeping," says the news item, Ipsos OTX Study: People Spend More Than Half Their Day Consuming Media, from The Wrap.

Imagine that.

Human beings have a voracious appetite when it comes to information – no one can deny that. If you ever thought that we may, in fact, cross the chasm that Clay Shirky laid out in his recently released best-selling business book, Cognitive Surplus, this new piece of information might lead you to think differently. Imagine the cognitive surplus we’re actually creating if this statistic is true. Imagine what we could do with this time if we were not passively sitting back and just consuming media. Not only do people love consuming media, but it seems like the more platforms, channels and hardware we add into the equation, the more consumption happens across them. Think back and ask yourself if you ever really thought you would be consuming as much media as you are on your mobile device? It wasn’t that long ago when even the concept of consuming media on a mobile phone seemed almost as ridiculous as sharing your every mundane action in a 140-character tweet on Twitter.

Things get even murkier and more interesting…

Bruce Friend, President of Ipsos OTX MediaCT, went on to say: "Communicating is now entertaining, and entertainment is communication The speed at which things can be delivered thanks to broadband, and the ways it can be delivered, with DVR and VOD, mean that the speed of change has ramped up in an unprecedented way." Twitter and Facebook are great examples of this. They’re not just platforms to communicate, they are places that entertain us – much in the same way a television or radio show does. Pushing his comments further, the advent of the DVR and VOD lets people consume more of what they like much more frequently. You no longer have to choose one program over another. You no longer have to wait until a certain time during the week to watch a specific show. Because you can record everything or watch it on demand, we tend to fill our time with even more content (and media consumption).

The Internet is not killing television.

If anything, it is having more choices that is driving more and more consumption. It’s our ability to fill those smaller time slots (like any idle moment of waiting in your life) with some form of media/entertainment (be it a quick glance of a Twitter feed or checking the sport scores on your mobile device). The more we continue to untether and be free of fixed locations, the more we will continue to see this trend in media consumption rise.

Think about what this all means when it comes to Marketing, Advertising and Communications. What do you think this all means?


  1. Woah, this is overwhelming, and really makes you think back on how much time we’re spending stuck to our smartphones, iPads, etc. It’s almost scary..
    Does the study specify where those 7,000 online consumers are from? It would be an interesting thing to know and analyze.
    Thanks for the post!

  2. Wow… It really drives home the need to constantly be identifying what your customers and fans are into, and producing your own content to satisfy them and keep your social pulse strong. Better start now before everyone catches on! I’ve been thinking about this alot in terms of music marketing, and most are far behind – still sitting hoping for other content producers to come and do their job for them.

  3. do you think this means there is enough room for a new facebook or twitter to show entertainment and media? what would you think could be a good concept to develop?

  4. Timely post for me; I just finished a post on fighting the distractions and interruptions that keep us from doing the real work that matters.
    It’s easy to get caught up in all of the streams when we have access to them any place, any time (like right now from my couch while on my iPad).

  5. I agree, what’s starting to bother me is that even by spending all this time consuming media, I still feel like I can’t keep up with everything that I’d like to read/watch/listen to.. Those same distractions are not only keeping me from doing the work that really matters, but also from the content I’d actually want to see!

  6. Imagine it all going in the other direction! Here’s the scene: All of us take each other’s advice and spend all our time focusing on creating content (instead of consuming) and before we know it, none of us would look at any other blogs or consume any content that we didn’t generate ourselves.
    Seriously, it is tough to find the balance of consumption versus creation or doing anything else besides online activities for that matter.
    We’re fuc#€t.

  7. For Pablo:
    Library of Babel
    Borges’s narrator describes how his universe consists of an endless expanse of interlocking hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books is random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just a few basic characters (letters, spaces and punctuation marks). Though the majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for many of the texts some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of a vast number of different contents.
    Despite — indeed, because of — this glut of information, all books are totally useless to the reader, leaving the librarians in a state of suicidal despair. This leads some librarians to superstitions and cult-like behaviour, such as the “Purifiers”, who arbitrarily destroy books they deem nonsense as they move through the library seeking the “Crimson Hexagon” and its illustrated, magical books. Another is the belief that since all books exist in the library, somewhere one of the books must be a perfect catalog of the library’s contents; some even believe that a messianic figure known as the “Man of the Book” has read it, and they travel through the library seeking him.

  8. I think knowing this further strengthens a theory I have-that we as marketers can develop our communication strategies based on the content that people consume.
    Think about it, every social network that we’re on requires you in one way or another divulge little details about the media we consume. Facebook asks what books, movies, and music you like. Twitter will have you sharing links and the list goes on.
    If you were to dissect this information, your can find the way to have your messaging stand out to your target market and burn each piece of messaging into their minds. And because people are spending more time consuming media, it gives you many more opprotunities to resonate, as long as you know how to stand out to them.

  9. Wow, Thanks!
    I read Library of Babel back in High School.. the metaphor applies nicely to what we’re talking about here, although I hope we’re still really far from a stage where the overwhelming amount of information grows so much it becomes useless. At least with social media people can share what they think is worth checking out, so the only problem should be finding people who share content of real value to you!

  10. I’m sure if you dig into the video that goes along with the link to the article you can learn more. I haven’t spent enough time with the research, but it would also be interesting to see how much of this is also multi-platform (meaning two media+ at the same time).

  11. The lightbulb moment happens when the Marketer discovers that they – themselves – are also the publisher of the content. That they have access to the distribution system to place their content out into the world (and the cost of distribution is almost free). That’s where the paradigm shift happens.

  12. Mitch: re — “that should make you look at this Blog post with your head titled sideways and your eyebrows raised – the way a dog looks when you talk to it.” I’ve always called that “pulling an RKO dog.” Sure it dates me. But, there you go.

  13. That feeling is natural when you shift from a world of control to a world of disintermediation. The truth is that you can’t capture it all… and that’s fine. You take in what you can and use it, and discard the rest.
    As for this being a distraction from the “real work” – it’s dependant on what your “real work” is. For me, these types of media are my job. It’s a different situation.

  14. I don’t think it’s that dire. The line between producing and consuming also gets fuzzy. You don’t just consume Facebook… you’re a part of creating your own experience. While the majority of people do prefer consumption over creation, my guess is that we will continue to create more and more and it’s that act that will lead to even more consumption.

  15. In a simpler way, this reminds me of music. There are only seven chords… it’s what is done with them by the musician and how it resonates with an audience that matters. This is the point of filters. Let’s hope we don’t have filter failure… even though many media pundits will tell you that we’re already there.

  16. The analytics are astounding. Look no further than a company like Demand Media to see the validation of your comment. Beyond the raw analytics though, the content must resonate. It’s has to be real and authentic and people have to want to connect to it.

  17. I believe the reference to Clay Shirky’s argument, and what might be wrong with it, is the key one for marketers.
    While a lot of the new tools and platforms allow “interactiveness”, I think much of the increase in media absorption for many people can be considered rather passive consumption – watching YouTube Videos, reading tweets, etc. So if you assume people still need to work and sleep about the same amount as before, far from a cognitive surplus being created, there is an ever expanding cognitive deficit.
    So in the short-term, the obvious question for marketers (etc.) is how to get heard amongst all the noise. But in the long term, I think the big questions are more like how can we reverse that (i.e. free up more time to do stuff) – and how not only communications strategies, but perhaps underlying product and service designs, might need to be tweaked to better serve customers increasingly short on time.

  18. This seems somehow related to why GEICO has been able to be so successful with their 15 second spots. If it’s interesting enough, a certain segment of people will consume it quickly on their phone or at their work desk. [Note: This was mentioned recently on The BeanCast, so it wasn’t my original idea.]
    Of course, a lot of this probably comes down to what the definition of consuming media is within the study. While I would technically be wrong I suppose, I still wouldn’t consider listening to music while I work “consuming” media. Yet, I know people that listen to music all day long. As a marketer, I’m more concerned with impressions of my clients within media that people actively pay attention to (maybe a short YouTube vid?) than I am with those in media people aren’t actively paying attention to (perhaps Pandora?). Now, I could be wrong, but I consider an impression within media someone is actively engaged with to be a chance to start the conversation, relationship, etc, whereas an impression within passive media is just advertising. Or, am I getting too lose with terms here?

  19. Yeah I most agree with almost everything you have here.. Many of Us don’t even realize this until it’s to late.. Thanks for the sharing have a great one! STRAIGHT TALK

  20. Mitch, I’m in my final year of college and while this stat sure is amazing, I can’t say i find it surprising considering the multitude of platforms, the degree of customization and the level of connectedness that media now offers.
    Re: your comment reply “It has to be real and authentic and people have to want to connect to it.” I believe is the key, because as a marketer, I now have to compete with a whole half days worth of media for the attention of any given person.

  21. “There are only 3 colors, 10 digits, and 7 notes; its what we do with them that’s important.” yes in a sense you’re saying we should use the above quote to filter the following: “If you want to make beautiful music, you must play the black and the white notes together.”
    well information is music and music is information and according to einstein everything is frequencies or music as we like to say. the Musicians have started using Ai(or the current failed machine state of it), like google is using it for search. Concern is a) filter some of the music out that are beautiful b) further limiting it to songs that create profit only to some hexagonal rooms rather than creating value to the circular spine of the symphonies that runs through humanity.
    funny enough re Library of Babel:
    ?”Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.
    First: The Library exists ab aeterno. the libray is a sphere whose exact center is any one of his hexagons and whose circumference is inaccessible…The mystics claim that their ecstacy reveals to them a cicular chamber containing a great circular book, whose spine is continus and which follows the complete circle of the walls, but their testimony is suspect, their words obscure. This cyclical book is God!!!
    re: Mr. Walkers comment, I see the problem where we as marketers try to use all this information to grab consumers attention or incept their mind if you will, and then sell them things of no value or some value to drive profit, rather than helping our clients create Valuable products and services that are also profit driven parallel to using these marketing tools.
    or we could keep on building see what kind of babylon our babels form into, life does build on complexity afterall, having fingers crossed, LOL

  22. Yes timely post indeed and unlike the dog sitting there with its head cocked this doesn’t surprise me at all (ok well just a little).
    I too am about to write a blog post on taking smart breaks from this over consumption. What I think a lot of people now need to recognise is that a lot of that time surfing and consuming is valuable (if it’s moving you further or creating new business) and to view it as part of your sales and marketing activity.
    Once people adopt the attitude that they will be spending time on Social Media sites and they endeavour to spend that time in a useful and conductive way they won’t see it as this overwhelming time suck!

  23. I think marketers will have to get smarter about where and how they advertise. By default, this “Me time” consumption punishes the low quality, non-effective ads and makes note of great ads (probably allows you to share them as well). Marketers must be careful in the coming years, if they want to stay relevant they must think about how to sell a product differently(effectively). When the media changes, marketing doesn’t change, the way you go about marketing changes.
    Great post, lots to think about.

  24. I get really aggitated when my routes to info are taken away, pretty crazy really. I am about to go to Africa for a week and will be turning my data roaming off, part of me is looking forward to actually being cut off whilst the other part is worried if I will cope! Perhaps a bit dramatic but just like Jonny 5, I NEED INPUT!!!

  25. Great stuff as always Mitch!
    While I agree that the Internet is not *killing* television, there is an opportunity cost to increased online media consumption. Some of that, at the moment, is in exchange for little bits of free time. I think TV will trend down at a faster rate than it is now, especially as the increase in time that people consume media plateaus.

  26. Stunning how much our media consumption has grown recently. Certainly, Internet is not killing TV, people still love to watch TV. And without TV, where would all the websites advertise to the mass population not online/in their sphere?

  27. What it tells me is that there are no limits as to mediums that can be used as marketing vehicles, and that we need to be open to testing every possible new touch point.
    Emphasis on testing.
    Too many anxious, trend-obsessed marketers forget to measure, and focus only on leveraging, when they have actually experienced next to no results.
    How many Twitter Marketers measure the results from their daily tweeting? Is it making them or their clients money? If not, stop doing it, or try doing it differently.
    These new roadways and increasing media exposure will allow the true Marketing Scientists to shine and lead the way to the profitable pathways.

  28. Probably getting a little loose. Media is media. If you’re listening to music… I think you are consuming a form of media. Though, I think you’re saying that if you’re listening to radio, it may be perceived a little differently?

  29. It also makes the media buying and planning process that much more complex with many more platforms and options. Along with that, it’s not just advertising: now we’re talking about Marketers as Publishers, or Marketers as content creators.

  30. Great article. I think back to 1985 and the book “Amusing ourselves to Death”. It is crazy to think what that author would have to write about in 2010. Thanks for a look into it.

  31. Our family recently watched an episode of “Glee” on Hulu. During that episode, I used my Droid to search to find out more about one of the actresses. Similarly, when I watched U2: Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, I was browsing the Wikipedia page on my Droid to get more background information on the songs and the concert.
    I like how we can use new media technology to help annotate our experiences with traditional media.

  32. I like it. you like it. we like it. every want it.
    it’s just human nature..
    like more better future; Quantity and quality . I think..

  33. I have to agree with many who say it: when you put it into figures like that, it really is scary how much time we spend absorbing media.
    The other thing which really concerns me is the speed mentioned here. Are we really ready for such rapid development? Can we cope for long periods with such a strenuous demand for progress every day? I dont mean to say we should be lazy, far from it, but we should be careful in case we burn out much quicker than we usually do. Can a person really remain on red alert work mode for a decade? 2 or 3 decades? Somewhat worrying…

  34. The impact of summarizing all these stats in this blog post really is enormous! It shows what influence marketing and the media have on our daily lives. On a professional level, as a devoted marketer, it validates the argument I’ve had for years about the importance of the role of marketing in organizations. On a personal level, it demonstrates a side of our society that I don’t really like. Why do we need to know everything about everyone all the time? I’m just as guilty of checking facebook or twitter for all the latest updates but why are we all consumed with so much of it? I guess like another comment above says it plays off of human nature. But maybe it’s playing a bit too much! Nonetheless, the media and the power of marketing in this day-and-age cannot be avoided. That’s my take.

  35. We can and do adapt… we always have. Human beings are exceptional filters and creatures of survival. Too much television programming will not kill us. Bad TV programming might make us stupid, but it won’t kill us (at least not directly πŸ˜‰

  36. Yeah, in my mind, the phrase “consuming media” is just too broad then for a statement like “We now consume media for more time than we spend sleeping or working every day” to be significant. Now, if it was “engaging with media” instead, that would monumental, no?
    Now, you’ve got me wondering who is measuring things like that and where I can find the data.

  37. It means that 1/2 of our work days is made up of reading, watching, looking and listening.
    In some cases, this is an amazing thing. People have the ability now to read insightful blog posts, gain a greater perspective on a complicated madder through YouTube, or find out a quick sound-bit of information through Twitter.
    However, in many other cases, this puts into perspective the level in which we all must achieve if we wish to get noticed. I often think of the small town analogy
    – In a small town, there where almost as many restaurants as people. Everyone had something to offer, with different dishes, designs and specials. However, only a few of the restaurants seem to flourish, while the others where kept in business only by the families that owned them. Why? …. (I’ll skip the longer version and get to the point) because they where remarkable.
    So, the final question you asked, “Think about what this all means when it comes to Marketing, Advertising and Communications. What do you think this all means?”
    I think it means we either step-up or get stepped over!
    Excellent post Mitch,
    Josh Muirhead

  38. I think it also means that the metric by which we have traditionally used to gauge “time spent” is now down to seconds. While you’re waiting for that elevator, you’re scanning your Twitter feed… when else – in the history of humanity – was that possible?

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