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Digital Media Surpasses Television Viewing

  |   jim's digital lab


What if I told you the average consumer today spends more time using their digital devices than they do watching television? The amazing fact is that 10 years ago most people would have said: “What’s a digital device?” And, 5 years ago, most people would have answered: “No way!” That’s how rapidly we’ve moved from a television-centric consumer to an always-connected digital culture. This also explains why the movie, radio, television and print publishing sectors have experienced the greatest disruption in the business continuum we’ve ever seen. And, you thought the buggy whip business, killed off by the advent of the automobile, was the age-old example of disruptive shifts in consumer demand for new products and services. That was a tiny economic sliver compared to the tsunami we are experiencing today.

Based on the latest research conducted by eMarketer in July 2013, this year average adults, 18+ years of age, will spend over 5 hours every day online, on non-voice mobile activities (listening to music, surfing the web) or with other digital media activities. This compares to about 4 hours and 31 minutes watching television. Daily TV viewing time will actually be down slightly, while digital media consumption will be up around 16%. Exhibit 1 (above left) shows the media-by-media viewing habits by media type expected in 2013, as well as viewing habit trends since 2010.

The biggest jump in digital media consumption is on a mobile device, which is defined as Smartphones, enhanced “feature” phones and tablets. This is vividly detailed in Exhibit 2 (above right), showing mobile trending since 2010. Adults on average will spend 2 hours and 21 minutes per day on non-voice mobile activities, including mobile internet usage on phones and tablets. This is longer than they will spend online on desktop and laptop computers, and nearly an hour more than they spent on mobile last year. It’s clear the availability of lower price point Android-based tablets from Samsung and other vendors, Amazon’s Kindle reader tablet and Apple’s iPad and iPad Minis, have caused a huge shift to portable digital media devices that provide a more comfortable screen size to accommodate some digital activities that are less convenient on a Smartphone. This is a clear winner over heavier, slow-to-turn-on laptop computers.

That being said, Smartphone screen dimensions continue to increase in size, and mobile optimized websites are making it significantly easier to access and consume information from your website on a Smartphone.

Time spent with mobile has come to represent a little more than half of TV’s share of total media time, as well as nearly half of digital media time as a whole. The bulk of mobile time is spent on smartphones, at 1 hour and 7 minutes per day, but tablets are not far behind. Feature phones account for relatively little time spent on nonvoice mobile activities, since few have robust mobile internet capabilities.


While it’s easy to get caught up in the metrics and revel in statistics, there is a pragmatic need to step back just a bit and ask a fundamental question: “So What?” Every golf course operator, real estate community, private equity capital company, hotelier or PGA TOUR event with which we work, has a need to market their products and services in some form or fashion. While word of mouth from your best customers can provide the most sought after form of endorsement, and we’d love to see it become the dominant marketing option you have, that close circle of your best customers can only provide the first wave of positive reinforcement about what you sell, whether it is tee times, hotel rooms, restaurant reservations, event tickets, real estate or investment opportunities.

Social Media Marketing Options 301x262But, the initial burst of marketing energy that comes from your fanatical customers drops dramatically with the next wave of endorsements derived from “friends of friends.” As a result, other forms of marketing need to kick in to sustain sales momentum. The good news is that marketing today does not have to exclusively rely on the more expensive media options such as over-the-air or cable television, newspapers, magazines or radio. Far less expensive options are more readily available using a variety of digital media platforms.

From using Facebook to engage your best customers and their friends and a Twitter stream of updates and offers, to YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram video & photo sharing, a creative approach to very low cost engagement tools to push out marketing messages is fast becoming nothing short of a marketing necessity. In addition, many clients are beginning to look very seriously at Pay Per Click advertising options such as those available through Google Adwords. These can be extremely attractive because of the large number of customization capabilities you have at your disposal in creating your PPC buy. For example, the advertiser sets the daily budget and the amount it is willing to spend per click. Second, the advertiser can target by region, state, city or sub-city areas for high target indexing. Importantly, you only pay for actual clicks…you don’t pay if someone happens to see and read your PPC ad but shows no inclination to act on your call to action messaging. PPC is always my second favorite option behind organic clicks coming from a Google search by prospective customers, but PPC is a valuable opportunity to jump in quickly…hit the ad messaging hard for a few days or weeks (or longer)…and turn it off within minutes. You cannot do that in the analog advertising world. While PPC is a terrific “overlay” to an ongoing marketing program…it should not be the ONLY marketing promotion you do.

Another option includes using your database of customers to re-engage with them through email marketing. Emails are extremely inexpensive (less than a penny each to send out), but you do need to focus on providing interesting information interspersed with special pricing opportunities, stay ‘n play packages, event opportunities and the like. Email works if you aren’t always pitching the “deal of the day.” But, it is important to make sure your email is packaged with high quality formatting, strong images and well-thought out text. If the email looks like a ransom note, it will not engage your customers, it can harm your brand identity and your email “open” rates will decline over time. Sending out emails that no one opens will not make the cash register ring. As with PPC, you can target your customers based on whatever attributes you’ve assigned to them in the database (zip code, handicap, recency of purchase, etc.). Blasting the same message to your entire database time after time will lose its value. Targeting the messages to smaller groups of customers is almost always the best approach since you’ll see higher open rates, and higher click-through rates to your ultimate call-to-action: BUY NOW!


In a future Jim’s Digital Lab, I’ll cover a subject that is the big elephant in the room…your website presence. The website is at the very core of your digital media marketing efforts. Email marketing, Pay Per Click advertising, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and even social media platforms ultimately drive customers and prospects back to your website. Is your website central to your thinking, or is it a placeholder just to show prospective customers that you are a real company? I’ll argue that the latter is disastrous on many levels.

So many things have changed in our web development world over the last 2-3 years, especially as it relates to tablets and Smartphones as web access platforms, that the subject will require another blog post in Jim’s Digital Lab. I’ll cover “responsive” web sites and mobile optimized platforms, and discuss how they drive traffic to your website.

Stay tuned!