Minding The (Media) Gap

It has long been assumed that the media habits of those in the advertising business differ from the rest of America. Two recent studies indicate that this might be true.

When advertisers and planners consider which marketing channels to invest in, cold, hard data is usually cited as the primary driver -- but in reality, just like everything else human beings do, biases sometimes creep in.

During Advertising Week, the Media Behavior Institute (MBI) presented the findings of a study it had conducted with 15 media professionals in New York City. These media pros recorded their media use and other aspects of their day using the smartphone app that is utilized to generate the USA TouchPoints data. MBI then compared their media usage to the media usage of the general population.

The results of this comparison were quite interesting, but not entirely unexpected. The most surprising finding by far was the magnitude of difference in radio consumption between the two groups. While MBI is quick to point out that the study is not projectable to the entire advertising population, they do believe it is at least directionally correct, concluding that “on the basis of this exercise there exists a very real and significant media gap between media professionals and consumers.”



Internet use by the media professionals was considerably higher than that of the general population, +38%. Social networks use was close to 2x that of the general population. Tablet use was close to 3x that of the general population. TV use was slightly lower (-12%), but still substantial, with 75% of the media professionals tuning in daily. Print usage was considerably higher, with 42% of media pros interacting with print vs. 25% of the general population, a +68% difference. Daily radio usage by media professionals was literally half (42% versus 80%) of the general population. "Radio" in the study was defined as AM/FM and satellite radio.

Another recent study produced similar findings. One section of the just-released nationwide Alan Burns & Associates/Triton Digital study, “Radio Tomorrow,” compared the differences in perceptions toward radio between 1,498 ad agency employees and 39,754 respondents who are the households’ primary shoppers.  While the difference in radio usage in this study was not as large as the MBI study, the ad agency employees’ usage and attitudes toward radio were also markedly different. Compared to household shoppers, ad agency employees were 22% less likely to listen to radio on a daily basis, and:

· 30% more likely to state that radio has annoying ads.

· 33% more likely to listen to a customized Internet music stream on a daily basis

· 101% more likely to strongly disagree with the statement “I would be very disappointed if my favorite radio station went away.”

· 28% less likely to strongly agree with the above statement.

In addition, ad agency employees were less likely to cite radio as a medium that energizes them (14%) or improves their mood (19%).

In psychology, there is a theory called “projection bias” -- a phenomenon where an individual subconsciously projects his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions to other people. If media usage and perception among media professionals -- particularly in New York -- is close to the findings of these two studies, it is a phenomenon that could be impacting media choices.

As we approach the 2013 planning season, we believe it is imperative for all of us to look beyond our own media usage patterns and dig into each medium’s merits with an open mind. To generate the best results for an advertiser, it’s critical that there be no “me” in media. It might even be a worthwhile exercise to remind ourselves to be conscious of any inherent media biases that may have developed and to try not to allow our passion or our own personal media usage to influence media choices. Minding the media gap is likely to result in more successful campaigns.

1 comment about "Minding The (Media) Gap".
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  1. Steve Lindely from ClassicAmericanBoomer, LLC, October 18, 2012 at 10:55 a.m.

    Hey Bobby
    Great work! I recall pitching a station's metamorphosis to Country and a Levis Buyers reluctance, until I offered "You are absolutely right! I can't imagine anyone who listens to Country music EVER buying a pair of Levis!". Common-sensicle, I don't know, we were on the next buy. Later.

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