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iab-multitasking-attention-to-tv-may2012.jpgTV viewers might be busy playing games on their smartphones or using social networks on their tablets, but it looks like they still give most of their attention to TV, according to a May 2012 study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). In fact, while simultaneously engaging in TV-related activities on their devices, smartphone and tablet users both give an average of 63% of their attention to TV. The average attention level drops when these multitaskers engage in unrelated activities, but still remains above 50%, at 55% for smartphone users and 61% for tablet users.

Multitaskers using a computer pay the least amount of attention to TV when performing related (55%) and unrelated (50%) activities.

Share of TV Viewing Diluted by Device Ownership

TV might still get the lion’s share of multitaskers’ attention, but a separate report [pdf] from the IAB released in May 2012 reveals that the share of TV content actually watched on a TV decreases alongside increasing device ownership. Data from “The Multiscreen Marketer” indicates that while those with 2 screens (TV and computer) watch 87% of their TV content on a TV, that falls to 77% among viewers with 3 screens to choose from (TV, computer, and smartphone). Viewers with 4 screens (TV, computer, smartphone, and tablet) watch 69% of their TV content on a TV, with computers (16%), tablets (10%), and smartphones (4%) picking up a significant share.

Multiple Device Ownership Increases TV Ad Recall

Surprisingly, the report also finds that multi-screen activities increase brand associations. Asking respondents to name their favorite TV show and then name up to three advertisers if they came to mind, the study reveals multi-screen consumers actually showed an increased likelihood of being able to name specific brands. 53% of 4-screen consumers could name at least one advertiser, compared to 46% of 3-screen consumers and 42% of 2-screen consumers. Insight from the report suggests that this may be because people who have their second devices during commercial breaks are less likely to channel surf or skip the commercial break, leaving them aware, at some level, of the brands on the screen.

4-screen consumers aged 18 to 44 were the most likely (69%) to recall an advertiser on their favorite TV show.

Other Findings:

  • Respondents were particularly aware of the primary advertisers on reality shows with a live feel, such as “American Idol,” with 65% being able to recall at least one sponsor. That’s good news for advertisers, given October 2011 study results from AdAge that showed live TV shows commanding ad spot premiums.
  • Independent dramas such as “Mad Men” fared well in sponsor recall, with 49% recalling an advertiser. Police procedurals such as “NCIS” (38%) scored below the 46% average, as did comedies such as “The Big Bang Theory” (32%).
    • About the Data: The IAB “Screens to the nth” study is based on data collected and analyzed by Ipsos MediaCT in partnership with the IAB. The study used a combination of sources including LMX, a single-source, 2-wave media diary of 7500 consumers examining device ownership and when, where, and how new and traditional media is consumed, along with HearWatchSay, Ipsos and IAB’s online community of 5000 media-savvy individuals.The IAB’s “Multiscreen Marketer” study was conducted by Econsultancy on behalf of the IAB. It was fielded online on April 19, 2012 to a Survey Sampling panel comprised of US consumers ages 18 and over. Tablet owners were over-sampled to ensure sufficient data for that audience. The survey closed on April 25, 2012 with 1,851 qualified responses.

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