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Daily Screen Time Is on the Rise: What Does This Mean for Advertisers?

June 4th, 2019   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

Americans are spending a lot of time consuming media these days. But how much time? We’re talking 10 hours and 30 minutes per day connected to media, according to Nielsen‘s latest Total Audience Report.

Daily screen time, including time spent on smartphones and watching TV, clocks in at 8 hours and 46 minutes. That’s nearly two hours more than the time the average American spends asleep, according to a 2013 Gallup report (the latest data available from Gallup).

Not all media are created equal, though.

Ads a person sees while reading news websites at work are not the same as ads they see while watching an episode of Killing Eve on BBC America. This person is also likely scrolling through one social media app or another on their phone while watching your ad.

So, how do marketers reach this multi-screen audience?

How to Target Your Cross-Platform Audience

First, you need to know how your audience is using these multiple screens.

Are they starting an episode of TV on the big screen and finishing on their laptop or smartphone?

This can be tough to figure out, as tech standards are still finding a way to marry device and account data in a seamless way. One way of doing this is with device graphing, Doug Fleming, Hulu’s Head of Advanced TV, told MediaVillage. Doing so is critical for marketers who can then plan innovative strategies like segmenting creative based on delivery to a specific user, rather than a device.

Are people using a digital device while watching a TV-sized screen? Yes, according to Nielsen—45 percent of Americans are using another digital device while watching TV.

Using the Second Screen

It’s this second screen usage that holds the most immediate promise for marketers.

Yes, a second screen can mean that some viewers are distracted and perhaps not paying close attention to ads playing on the TV screen. But second screen usage is often additive to a viewing experience, according to Forbes.

Because of the increasing penetration of smart TVs and TV-connected devices, the groundwork is being laid to target second screens connected to the same network as the TV set.

If both devices are on the same network, that means marketers can know an ad was delivered via the big screen and have follow-up creative ready to deliver to the handheld device, per Forbes.

The tech involved in this process isn’t quite perfect, but as smart TV and connected TV penetration, already at 74 percent reported Leichtman Research Group, reaches its peak, being able to deliver targeted creative to possibly disengaged viewers is key.

Americans may be getting less than the recommended amount of sleep, with no improvement in sight, but daily screen time will eventually plateau. Consequently, the battle advertisers and programmers will have to fight is for attention share. The time to develop a cross-screen strategy is now.

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