media consumption

Healthcare Marketing: Consumers Can’t Get Enough Media

Americans are watching more, surfing more, texting more and consuming media more!

Americans continue to consume more and more media. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.   Due to a slow economy, ubiquitous broadband, widespread Wi-Fi access, increased multi-tasking and the proliferation of new devices and technology, consumers are living a lifestyle of almost continuous media consumption. In the past 18 months we watched two more hours of television per week, sent and received half a trillion more text messages and spent 1.3 more hours on the internet.  “We’re finding a way to do more of it, watch more of it and take more of it with us”, stated Patricia McDonough, VP-analysis, Nielsen Company.

Beth Snyder Bulik reported in Ad Age some  of the latest figures for U.S media consumption.


  • 116 million Americans have at least one television
  • 55% of households have at least 3 televisions
  • There are more televisions than people in the US
  • Americans spend an average of 35 hours and 34 minutes per week watching traditional TV
  • Another two hours is spent each week watching time-shifted TV, such as DVR
  • We spend an average of 20 minutes per week watching videos on the internet
  • TV watching is shared with social networking  (21%), playing video games (16%), purchasing products online (15%), participating by phone or internet with what’s happening on TV (7%) and tweeting (4%).


  • On an average day, 78% of Americans with internet access go online
  • 62% send /receive email
  • 49% use a search engine to find information
  • 43% get news
  • 38% go online for fun
  • 38% use social media
  • 34% check the weather
  • 26% do banking
  • 23% watch video


  • Only 31% of those surveyed read a newspaper on a given day
  • 65 and older – 62%
  • 50-64 – 44%
  • 40-49 – 39%
  • 18-24 – 20%

E-Readers and iPads

  • 3.7 million e-readers sold last year
  • 10.3 million predicted to be sold this year
  • 15.5 million predicted sold next year
  • 30 million predicted sold by 2015
  • 10 million American’s either already own an iPad  (2.5 million) or intend to buy one (7.4 million)

Mobile Phones

  • In 2009 there were 286 million wireless subscribers
  • 72% of consumers now text
  • There are 153 billion texts sent each month
  • Teens send and receive an average of 50 texts per day – adults an average of 10
  • 42% use their cell phones to access the internet
  • 30% do mobile search
  • 27% download apps
  • 26% use it for buying products
  • 15% use their cell phone to purchase products

Social Media

  • Linkedin has 75 million members
  • Twitter has 100 million members
  • Facebook has 500 million members
  • 40% of Americans maintain a social-networking profile
  • 86% of adults 18-24 use social media
  • 47% of boomers use social media
  • 26% of adults over 65 use social media

It is clear that Americans consume an enormous amount of media.  And it continues to increase.  These figures vividly show the power and influence of the media.  They are tools, when used wisely, that can deliver our messages to consumers.


Healthcare Marketing: Patients’ Media Habits Increasingly Challenging

Media consumption is rapidly changing.  Some marketers are responding with shorter ads while some are going to longer format ads.

Marketers face acute challenges with changing consumer media habits.  Particularly with younger demographics that have shrinking attentions spans.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has found through research that media consumption is actually increasing.  It has gone from an average of six hours and 21 minutes in 2004 to seven hours and 38 minutes today.  But today there is more multitasking and media becomes more fragmented.  Rupal Parekh in an Ad Age article reports that the Kaiser Foundation in fact estimates that because more people are using more than one medium at a time, consumers are actually managing to pack 10 hours and 45 minutes of media content into the 7 and one half hour.

Shrinking attention spans have dictated the shrinkage of media ad segments from 60-second spots to 30, 15, 5 and even 1-second spots.   But some marketers are going the other way.  They are investing in longer format ads.  These longer ads provide the opportunity to entertain, which engages the viewer.

Lady Gaga’s music video “Telephone” is nearly 10 minutes long.  In just a few weeks it had garnered over 28 million views on YouTube, over 500,000 views on and either shared on Facebook or tweeted directly from the pop star’s website over 150,000 times.

Marketers are trying all kinds of different ways to effectively reach consumers.  The variety can be seen from the extremes cited above.  Consumers have varying media habits with shorter attention spans and are flooded with media stimulation.  All of which make the job of marketers more and more difficult. It’s increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and hold the attention of consumers who may be consuming more than one medium.

The challenge requires creativity and the willingness to try different methods.  It demands accepting risk and even failure sometimes.  No one has a certain answer on how to most effectively communicate to a complex marketplace.  Probably there are multiple ways that are effective.  We just need to keep experimenting and never stop learning.