IPA Touchpoints: UK adults' media consumption up 9%

UK adults are spending eight hours a day consuming media, a trend fuelled by the nation's obsessive smartphone use and the plethora of platforms available to peruse, according to the IPA's latest TouchPoints research.

IPA TouchPoints: the average adult spends seven hours and 56 minutes a day consuming media
IPA TouchPoints: the average adult spends seven hours and 56 minutes a day consuming media

The IPA report found that media consumption time has rocketed 9% compared to 2016. For Belinda Beeftink, the IPA’s deputy director of research, the reason is simple.

"It may sound like an obvious thing to say, but it’s because there’s more of it," she said. "There are more platforms, more devices, and more easily accessible media which is meshing together."

While for brands and agencies, the variety of media and appetites for its consumptions provide opportunity, there are obvious challenges to reaching consumers effectively.

"For advertisers and agencies, it means they have to be very clear about the context of particular behaviour — when people are viewing it and why, what their motivations are," Beeftink said. "Context is really important."

Yet, in spite of many of today's headlines around media consumption, and reports to the contrary, adults are still have a rapacious appetite for traditional media, the IPA said.

TV still tops media consumption habits in terms of both weekly reach and average hours viewed, followed by out-of-home, radio, social media. Even for millennials, TV is still the largest medium overall.

In terms of peak times for viewing media, more than half (54%) of the population watch video between 9pm and 10pm on an average weekly night.

Netflix's popularity is pronounced – viewed by 19% of all adults each week – up from 16% in 2016 and by 39% of millennials.

Tony Mattson, head of strategy at Havas Media, was upbeat about TV's popularity, agreeing that its "death knell might have been sounded a little too soon", and he is enthused by the opportunities for creativity and innovation arising out of the growth of media multitasking. But he admitted that "it's not all rosy".

"While TV remains strong on the face of it, Netflix (with its zero advertising policy) is becoming increasingly important for adults and especially so for millennials," he said.

Elsewhere, music streaming's popularity is on the rise, with 38% of all adults listening each week, rising to 55% for 15- to 24-year-olds.

Meanwhile, a huge 76% of all adults now use social media and/or social messaging every week, up from 71% in 2016. Unsurprisingly, these figures rise for millennials (95% and 93% respectively).

Facebook continues to dominate, reaching 83% of millennials and 62% of all adults each week. Year-on-year growth for the network is slowing though, up 1% and 3%.


WhatsApp and Snapchat weekly usage grew 22% and 17% among all adults.

Multimedia consumption has grown significantly since the IPA TouchPoints debut survey in 2005, when 79% of adults consumed two or more media in the same half hour at some point during the week. Today, 92% of adults flit between media, while 26% are consuming more than three media in any half hour.

"We know from our own lives that what people do is that they might have one eye on the telly but they’re also checking their phone, or they’re on their phone and reading a newspaper," said Beeftink.

The multitasking consumer may be watching, reading or listening to more media and Mattson concurs that it's a "plus on the one hand". But on the other, it points to a challenge around attention.

"Attention is a real issue and while investment in disruption remains important, we have to find more organic ways of communicating with people that demand attention rather than fight for it," he said.

"In this context, understanding people's lives, the moments that matter to them and the role of media will be more important than ever."

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