Tool lets advertisers predict media use by the hour

MICHIGAN STATE (US) — A new marketing model could help companies predict when to buy ads on the Internet, television and radio, and in print publications.

The tool predicts when during the day people use the varying forms of media and even when they are using two or more at a time, an increasingly common practice known as media multiplexing.

Previous models for predicting when consumers use media were 60 to 70 percent accurate; the new model is 97 percent accurate, a new study shows.


“For businesses, our model does a much better job of predicting where your customers are at any given time,” says lead researcher Chen Lin, assistant professor of marketing at Michigan State University. “It represents a significant advancement over other models because much of that work assumed people consumed one type of media at a time.”

The study, published in the academic journal Marketing Science, is based on a survey of the media-consumption habits of nearly 2,000 US residents. Lin and colleagues used the survey data to create their complex forecasting model.

The study shows that people spend about 35 percent of their time consuming media, and that television is still the most popular outlet, followed by computer.

During the weekend, consumers spend more time watching TV and reading print publications and less time on the computer and listening to radio.

People spend about 1.5 hours a day consuming multiple media at the same time (e.g., surfing the web while watching TV). This happens more at during the start of the workday and before bed—at about 9 a.m. and again at 9 p.m.

Does print still matter?

Lin also says she was surprised to find consumers still value print media at certain times, particularly in the morning. Print was especially popular when it was paired with other forms of media.

“The old thinking is that print is endangered, but we found that it doesn’t need to be eliminated,” Lin says. “Print can have a second life if it’s cleverly paired with new media such as personal computers and smart phones.”

In fact, Lin says ad buyers should stop considering the different media forms as competing and instead view them as complimentary.

For example, print ads should be partnered with radio and Internet media forms in the key time slots when consumers are likely to be using all three forms.

“Our findings underscore the need to move away from a competitive mindset to a coordinated viewpoint,” Lin says, “as consumers increasingly use combinations of media forms in short periods.”

Researchers from the University of North Carolina and Emory University contributed to the study.

Source: Michigan State University