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“More diverse media plans have never been so important”: How publishers can effectively navigate an increasingly fragmented media landscape

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“79% of commercial media time for 16-34s is now spent with digital media,” according to Simon Frazier, Senior Research and Marketing Manager, IPA (The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising). This is one of the key findings from the IPA’s latest edition of its Making Sense: The commercial media landscape report. 

The report offers a detailed view of the commercial media (curated media which is commercially funded) consumption habits in Great Britain and can help publishers refine their content and ad revenue strategies for better results. 

Although the report is based on a study of the media habits of 6,000 adults (15+) in GB in 2020, “the findings may prove to be more globally relevant in the coming months,” writes Frazier, “as the world unites in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The study compares 2020 to 2015 data to give an understanding of how commercial media consumption is evolving. It also compares 2020 data from before, and during the lockdown (24 March to mid-May 2020), to understand how it affected media consumption behaviour.

“Increasingly fragmented and diverse”

The curated commercial media landscape has been redefined by the rapid growth of smartphone usage and subscription-based media across the last five years, the report states. 

However, the shifts are not universal; the commercial media landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented and diverse.

Making Sense: The commercial media landscape

It highlights the pace of change over the past five years and the impact of lockdown in accelerating the diversification of media habits between generations. One of the most “astonishing” findings according to Frazier is the widening gap in media consumption habits across generations. 

The study finds a 92% difference between how 16- to 34-year-olds and over-55s consumed commercial media during lockdown.The two groups had been 58% similar in their media habits in 2015. That dropped to 21% in the pre-lockdown period and then to 8% during lockdown. 

“More changes in media consumption than the previous 50 years”

“The dissimilarities didn’t end there,” writes Frazier. “16-34s under lockdown became more digital in their consumption habits. While 55+ saw almost a counter-digital movement in their behaviours, showing for the first time since 2015 growth in reach, time spent and time share for Newsbrands in Print, Broadcast Linear TV, Mail and Live Radio to name but a few.” 

The last five years have, for some, seen more changes in media consumption than the previous 50 years.

Simon Frazier, Senior Research and Marketing Manager, IPA
Source: Making Sense: The commercial media landscape

“More diverse media plans have never been so important” 

As in previous years, the greatest shifts have been seen among the 16-34 year olds. However, where these shifts are happening has changed. Social media continues to dominate this group’s curated commercial media time, taking 33% of all time spent. But the biggest growth has been driven by Other Online Video (commercially funded online video which is not made available by a UK broadcaster like YouTube, Vimeo). Here the time spent has grown 236% from 2015 to 2020. 

In the 35-54 age group the biggest weekly reach growth over the past five years has been seen in Magazines Online (+246%) and Commercial Online News (+198%).  

The 55+ age group has seen the least change in commercial media behaviour. For this group, the correlation between media channel time spent in 2015 and 2020 is 99% and for weekly reach it is 94%. Commercial Live/Recorded TV continues to dominate their commercial media time, with only a slight reduction of time spent (53% to 49%) over the last five years. 

With these changes more diverse media plans have never been so important for marketing to be effective in both the short and long term. 

Simon Frazier, Senior Research and Marketing Manager, IPA

“Far more about consumer evolution”

“As the delivery methods diversify, it’s not about one media dying,” writes Frazier. “It’s far more about consumer evolution in line with technological advancement and convenience while needs remain constant.” 

“As we’ve seen, 16-34s still want news content just as much as 55+, but they want it in a way that works best for them – often digitally and on mobile – while for 55+ in print and on a TV screen just seems to fit better with their lifestyle. 

“By understanding these nuances of media behaviour and appreciating the context of media engagement, we can ultimately plan advertising much more effectively,” he concludes.

The full report is available at IPA:
Making Sense: The commercial media landscape