I attended the presentation of the Online Publisher’s Association latest research report on media consumption at the Four Seasons in San Francisco this morning. Details on the report can be found within the OPA press release. The research was interesting in that it was unlike most reports which (a) are limited to what participants report in and, (b) usually are limited to a single media type such as web (ComScore) or TV (Neilsen) and rarely multiple types.


In this study, conducted by the Ball State Center for Media Design was observational. What this means is that researchers sat with 350 subjects for, on average, 13 hours a day tracking with a PalmOS powered handheld, every 15 seconds, what their subjects were looking at. Yes, every – 15 – seconds.


Some highlights:


Cross media study surfaced concurrent media use and how online & offline media compliment each other.


TV still rules in terms of reach (90%) and duration (300 minutes) but there is a large variation in duration across age groups with young males spending the least amount of time on TV.

If you look at reach over the day – TV rules the evening but throughout the day, the web is only 15% behind TV in reach and less than half the amount of time.

It’s come a long way though, used to be less than an hour/day in 1995 (remember, this is before flat rate internet access)


16% of all web use occurs while watching TV.

4% of all web use is immediately before or after TV viewing.


Combining the web with TV or print media ads significantly to an advertiser’s reach. Imagine the impact of an integrated campaign that runs a spot on the Lost TV show and then, runs sponsership across the thelostexperience.com web site.


Web has an at-work presence that exceeds all other media (not many people get to watch TV at work) but radio is a surprising second. I guess if you’re an auto mechanic in Muncie, IN, then yeah, radio would make sense.


Online drives offline and offline drives online. One of these days I’m going to count the number of times my local NBC affiliate news program says, “for more information on this, go to our website”


Offline media brands bring consumers online. The qualitative research videos mention The New York Times, USA Today, Sports Illustrated as the sites that cause people to go to their computers in the first place. No one said they went online specifically to watch YouTube, etc. I would imagine this would be different if they were covering those under 18 which were not part of this study.


Best Question of the presentation was from someone questioning if the researchers impacted their subject’s viewing habits in any way. Having someone with a clipboard peering over your shoulder and tapping something into a palm pilot every 15 seconds is bound to have some impact after all.


Dr. Michael Holmes, the coordinator of the research project, said that their figures are within just a few percentage points of other research findings so they feel they are accurate. While Dr. Holmes did confirm that the good people of Muncie, Indiana are good, clean folk, he did think it odd that in over 6,000 hours of data there was not a single observation of pornography media. That’s for another study I guess.


UPDATE: OPA posted the slides from their presentation.