What Sharing Means To Consumer Reality

I've been thinking a lot lately about disconnects between industry parlance, planning and buying methodology and the way consumer life really looks right now. With the day-in-the-life so always-on and so cross-platform, and with tool sets constantly evolving to keep up with this trend, things like channel planning and media mix look incredibly different now than they did even two years ago. Here's something else to consider: sharing.

Screens are blending, devices are proliferating, we are living inside the Internet; as friends of mine like to say, we are surfing the world with the help of the Web. Nielsen recently shared some data at the AppNation Advertising and Media Summit in New York City, kicking off an invigorating conversation about what mobility really looks like today. First of all, surprisingly, mobility itself is decreasing. This somewhat counterintuitive trend coincides with the emergence of new connected device types and certainly the debut of tablets, a device that bridges a lot of different needs at once, business, personal and ergonomic.  Tablets help us bridge our computers and our handhelds, and personalize formerly bland exercises. We are mesmerized again. And, according to the numbers, sitting still quite a bit more vs. moving around more, clutching our slick devices.

What I found additionally fascinating were the numbers on sharing. Looking at set top devices; game consoles; GPS navigational devices; notebooks, PCs, laptops, eReaders, smartphones and tablets -- the numbers on device-sharing will give you pause. Sharing with others in the household -- not being the sole user of one's media and technology -- was a reality reported by 40%-70% of respondents for nearly every single device type.

As we map the day-in-the-life, we picture our consumer together with others, yet alone: waking up and flipping open the tablet and/or the notebooks; powering up the smartphone; turning on the TV; doing a conference call; eventually leaving the house and enacting his or her own media consumption profile. But, how much should we be thinking about the fact that one's wife or teenager uses the tablet; borrows the GPS; checks in on the desktop -- or considering countless other sharing behaviors?  How cloudy does this make our take on personal media consumption? It certainly matters -- but how? What do we think about the fact that the tablet is reportedly shared over 40% of the time among family members, according to these Nielsen stats?

In our common industry bit about media consumption, we should begin to include more exploration of the sharing factor. It's not to say that we've been ignoring it, but these numbers are certainly larger than I believe most of us have suspected. Numbers like these, in an already admittedly fluid consumption environment, have sway, especially on a consumer landscape somewhat dominated by apps and connected devices. We talk about the socialization of media; so, now, we add the fluid passing of hands on devices, themselves, to that consideration.

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