Luth Research just released a report about media multitasking: We seem to sleep less than the needed 7 hours and spend an increasing amount of hours (around 20 hours a week) on consuming media simultaneously.
"On average, 17 percent of our time awake -- approximately 19.80 hours per week -- is spent using two or more media simultaneously, according to the latest quarterly findings (Quarter 1, 2007) from Luth Research's IndicatorEDG™, an online study surveying more than 5,000 respondents in the U.S. The media in question included all mass media (e.g., TV, radio, Internet) and personal electronic devices (e.g., cell phone, MP3 player, wireless email device)."
Employed people spend less time media multitasking while the unemployed, retired or homemakers tend to raise the average. And in the center of all this multitasking is TV:
"Watching TV was named by nearly half of the respondents to be what they typically do
when working on the Internet or email through a computer. One in five people have their TV on while using their cell phone to make phone calls. TV seems to be a natural fit to co-own consumer time and space with other print media, as 20 percent of the respondents cited TV as the medium they were also using when reading a newspaper, a magazine, or a book."
And this is the most interesting part:
"Compared to the 60 percent of the respondents who spent less than 20 hours per week on media multi-tasking, those who spent 20 or more hours were found to be less happy in general about their life. Specifically, people spending 20 or more hours media multitasking expressed a lower average rating of happiness with their work, family and romantic lives.
Furthermore, the high consumption media multitaskers (those who spent 20 or more hours per week multitasking) were more likely to say they never had enough time and they experienced a higher level of stress. No doubt, quality of life is determined by many diverse elements. However, as we may want to pause and ask ourselves: Are we driving ourselves to be less happy?"
Media Consumption has become one of my focal points when thinking about the future of media and how emerging media can engage people in a more meaningful way.
Clearly, multitasking is a time waster and sometimes even dangerous. Research shows that people waste/lose up to 2 hours a day. And, when multi-tasking while driving a 2,000 lb. torpedo (car), it can turn into a more significant event, as in an accident and possibly fatal.
Focusing on media, multitasking will continue to be a major issue for measuring media effectiveness and media value: You're researching cars on Edmunds while watching Lost. Are you completely ignoring commercials or are there instances where they attract your attention? How about the ads on Edmunds? Are they of any value while you watch Lost, do they leave any impression or just a waste of money?
At this point, we don't know. In the meantime, we need to more precise with our messaging. And more entertaining. Only outstanding creative that has a clear message with cut through the clutter. No matter what channel you're deploying.