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Consumers Spend More Time Online Than with TV

7 Aug, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – For the first time ever, people will spend more time online than in front of the TV this year, eMarketer reports. The average adult will spend more than 5 hours per day online, on non-voice mobile activities or with other digital media compared to 4.5 hours watching TV.

The biggest growth segment is mobile. Adults will spend an average of 2 hours, 21 minutes per day on non-voice mobile activities, including mobile Internet usage on phones and tablets – longer than they will spend online on desktop and laptop computers, and nearly an hour more than they spent on mobile last year.

eMarketer’s estimates of time spent with media include all time spent within each medium, regardless of multitasking. Consumers who spend an hour watching TV while multitasking on tablet devices, for example, would be counted as spending an hour with TV and an additional hour on mobile. Such multitasking helps to contribute to the increase in the overall time people spend with media each day, which eMarketer expects to rise from 11 hours and 39 minutes in 2012 to 11 hours and 52 minutes this year.

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

Time spent with mobile is also the subject of widespread disagreement. Estimates for 2012 usage ranged from just under an hour, averaged across all U.S. adults, according to MAGNAGLOBAL (a figure that includes voice time, which other firms do not) to 2 hours, among the same population.

Research firms agree more closely on time spent with tablets – at least when measured among tablet users. eMarketer estimates tablet users spent nearly 2 hours per day with their devices in 2012; the the Online Publishers Association and Pew Research had estimates within 10 minutes of that. Averaged across the larger population of U.S. adults, the figure goes down significantly, and research firms that measured tablet usage among other groups that include many consumers who do not own a tablet also reported lower figures.

eMarketer estimates U.S. adults will spend 44.4 percent of their overall media time with digital this year, including 19.8 percent on mobile – compared to 19.5 percent on laptops and PCs. Time spent with mobile phones and tablets, excluding voice calls, has risen from 13.5 percent of all media time last year, and has nearly tripled since 2011.

The shift from desktop to mobile, whether smartphone or tablet, is happening across several activities, including social networking and digital video viewing. And tablets are key to the trend. As social networking and video reach plateaus in terms of share of total desktop time (around 29 percent and 18 percent, respectively), these activities are growing more quickly on smartphones, and especially tablets. The share of all tablet time spent with video, for example, will nearly double this year, from 10 percent to 19 percent.

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