Mobile-savvy consumers regular device switchers

According to a new Time Inc. study, consumers who grew up with mobile technology subconsciously move between devices and platforms 27 times per hour and experience fewer emotional highs and lows with media content than previous generations, with so-called ‘Digital Natives’ switching between devices and platforms every two minutes, using media to regulate their mood.

The study – A Biometric Day in the Life –  aims to show how the proliferation of digital devices and platforms would affect the media consumption habits of ‘Digital Natives’ (consumers who grew up with mobile technology as part of their everyday lives) and ‘Digital Immigrants’ (who first learned about mobile technology in their adult lives).

The study combined Innerscope Research’s biometric monitoring and point of view camera glasses in people’s homes throughout morning, evening, and weekend day parts with a national sample survey from M&RR. The results were used to understand how different generations of consumers engage with various media platforms.

“As a multiplatform media company, we are constantly looking at how technology affects the way our audiences consume media. Using biometrics, we were able to drill down even deeper to the emotional experience and subconscious behaviour of these audiences,” said Betsy Frank, Chief Research & Insights Officer for Time Inc. “In order to keep Digital Natives engaged, content creators and marketers will need to think differently. Grabbing them from the beginning is essential, as is content they can snack on and offering multiple access points to every story.”

During the 300 hours of monitoring, ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Immigrants’ wore biometric belts, which measured their emotional engagement throughout their normal day, and glasses with embedded cameras that monitored which medium or platform they were using and when they altered their visual attention.

The findings include:

  • Digital Natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, about every other minute.
  • Because Digital Natives spend more time using multiple media platforms simultaneously, their emotional engagement with content is constrained. They experience fewer highs and lows of emotional response and as a result, Digital Natives more frequently use media to regulate their mood — as soon as they grow tired or bored, they turn their attention to something new.
  • At home, Digital Natives take their devices from room to room with them (65 per cent vs. 41 per cent for Digital Immigrants) — rarely more than an arm’s length away from their smartphones – making switching platforms even easier.
  • More than half (54 per cent) of Digital Natives say: “I prefer texting people rather than talking to them” compared with 28 per cent of Digital immigrants – a significant indicator of how marketers and content creators need to communicate with them.

One major implication of these findings is that Digital Immigrants are intuitively linear – they want to see a beginning, middle, and end to stories. For Natives, stories still need a beginning, middle and end, but they will accept it in any order. Digital Natives are subconsciously switching between platforms and can pick up different pieces of a story from different mediums in any order.

“This study strongly suggests a transformation in the time spent, patterns of visual attention and emotional consequences of modern media consumption that is rewiring the brains of a generation of Americans like never before,” said Dr Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist, Innerscope Research. “Storytellers and marketers in this digital age will continue to face an increasingly complex environment with a higher bar for engaging an audience of consumers.”

 

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