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IPA Touchpoints: diverse media habits ‘starting to narrow’ between young and old

IPA Touchpoints: diverse media habits ‘starting to narrow’ between young and old

Life after lockdown appears to be reversing the widening gap between how older and younger generations use media.

The post-lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic has driven an increase in similarities between the commercial media usage habits of older and younger generations, the latest IPA Touchpoints report has revealed.

The fourth edition of Making Sense – The commercial media landscape marks a departure from previous TouchPoints data where there have been significant declines in the correlation between how much time is spent on specific media by these two audiences.

The report details how, despite the upheaval of the pandemic and continued working from home practices, the IPA is seeing patterns of media usage slide back towards long-established norms. This is particularly evident in out-of-home and audio, video and text too, the report said.

This is particularly true for how video is watched on TV sets, which saw a comeback during the 2020 lockdown, bu has since dropped “drastically” from 40% in both the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns to just 33% in 2021 post-lockdown.

For the 55+ market, the TV set has dropped below 50% for the first time has a share of how this group spends it time on media. TV sets fell from from a high of 54% share in the 2020 lockdown to 45% in 2021 post-lockdown.

The older cohort is now using significantly more digital media after the lockdowns – Smartphone, Tablet and PC Laptop combined usage now accounts for 33% of their total commercial media consumption time, up from 19% during the 2021 lockdown.

Facebook remains the media property with the biggest reach after lockdown, at 66%. This is followed by ITV (51%), Channel 4 (43%), YouTube (43%) and Instagram (36%).

The data for 2021, after the most stringent Covid-19 lockdowns shows an overall correlation of 18% (or 82% difference) between the two age groups’ media habits. While this is a relatively low correlation, it has increased from lockdown 2020, when this figure was just 8%.

The correlation between the commercial media use of 16- to-34s and 55+ from a time-spent perspective was 58% in 2015 and plummeted to 25% in 2019.

According to the report, this recent convergence is driven by the fact that 16- to 34s appear to have reached peak digital penetration and patterns of consumption are “levelling out”.

At the same time, for people aged 55 and older, the advancement of technology uptake brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in rapid digital media uptake, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming years.

The correlation between the commercial media use of 16- to-34s and 55+ from a time-spent perspective was 58% in 2015 and plummeted to 25% in 2019.  In 2020 this fell again to 21%, and in lockdown 2020 dropped even further to just 8%, showing a 92% difference between the two audiences.

The post-lockdown period also reveals a “dramatic increase” in the reach of media channels between younger and older audiences, for which the correlation has gone up to 52%.

Before the first 2020 lockdown there was evidence of an increasing correlation between the reach of media channels for 16-34s and 55+ – from 35% in 2019 to 39% in early 2020. This fell to 21% and 23% respectively in the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns.

Simon Frazier, head of marketing and data Innovation for the IPA, said the correlation figures are “encouraging” but warned those headline figures alone do not give an indication of how the media is used by the different audiences without looking at the full data set.

He added:  “As the commercial media landscape continues to evolve, an experimental mindset, more diverse media plans and a stronger focus on outcomes, have never been more important for marketing to be effective in both the short and long term.

“It’s clear from the data throughout this report that the combination of both digital and non-digital media has the greatest potential for brand building today and that traditionally opposed media platforms often work far better in harmony with each other than in competition.”

The report also summarises five key takeaways:

1) The media landscape has evolved significantly between 2005 and 2021, more than ever a greater focus is needed on diverse media plans to maximise overall campaign performance.

2) Increasingly media planners are facing challenges when building broad-audience, high-reach campaigns, and with the exception of OOH, no single curated channel can reach 90%+ of All Adults per week, highlighting the need for nuanced understandings in media planning.

3) Online Video has seen the most significant growth over the last five years of any channel and now commands a greater share of media time than Live/Recorded TV for 16-34s.

4) For commercial media in 2021, more time is now being spent with digital rather than non-digital channels. For All Adults the split has grown from 58:42 towards non-digital in 2015 to 46:54 in favour of digital in 2021. For 16-34s in 2021, 78% of all curated commercial media time was spent with digital channels.

5) How brands combine their digital and non-digital brand-building activity is now key.  A brand-building balance between digital and non-digital channels should be the absolute priority for brands that want to grow in the long-term.

SimonFrazier, Head of Marketing & Data Innovation, The IPA, on 14 Feb 2022
“Hi Mark,
I just wanted to clarify that throughout the Making Sense report we do look at reach, share of time and time spent with all print channels including mail. For the report we use the single source dataset of TouchPoints Daily Life which surveys the behaviours of adults in GB across a week period using a e-diary in which they record all of their activities and media usage including Mail, which I agree is a vital channel for consideration.
We use TouchPoints as it has a universal methodology of measurement for all media and allows media to be considered on a direct side by side basis, rather than combining different datasets together which may not be comparable and could unfairly bias towards one media or another.
In the full report which is available for free at ipa.co.uk/makingsense we analyse Mail and OOH through the lenses of reach, share of time and time spent based on when respondents report that they have engaged with the media. In the report it is correct to say that no single curated media channel has the capability of reaching 90%+ of adults except OOH. In terms of reach by media property, Facebook is showing as having the largest overall reach and this is borne out in the data and analysis.
Just to make it completely clear, we have not and indeed would not ever exclude any media channel from the analysis we do for the Making Sense report and give extensive analysis to non-digital media channels such as print. The objective of the report is to give a single source nationally representative representation of changes in the commercial media landscape for the industry to use. As the IPA we stringently maintain media neutrality in any research we conduct or analysis we do, and encourage practitioners to use a variety of datasets in combination in order to understand how target markets utilise media.
Best wishes, Simon”
MarkDavies, Managing Director, Whistl, on 08 Feb 2022
“Interesting findings but as ever I find myself banging on the glass of a media conversation being conducted in ignorance of print channels like doordrops and direct mail. No channel can reach more than 90% of adults except OOH. Wrong. Facebook has the highest reach. Wrong. And for many of my clients, their doordrops are outperforming Facebook so excluding us seems even harder to justify. While I celebrate the findings that multi-media is the way forward and agree that younger demographics are aligning more with wider media behaviours - our JICMail data (which is by the way integrated into Touchpoints!) would echo that finding in the way that 16-25 year olds engage with print media in their homes - I would simply ask that multi-media is a truly inclusive concept representing all the ways in which a client might spend their marketing budgets.”

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