Even as consumer time spent with media continues to expand -- inching up 0.3% last year -- the percentage of time consumers spend with ad-supported media continues to decline, according to the 2018 edition of an annual report tracking and forecasting consumer media usage.
The study, which was previewed by Research Intelligencer, comes as a major industry futurist -- Publicis’ Rishad Tobaccowala -- predicts that ad-supported media exposure is about to experience a cliff effect, declining as much as 30% over the next five years as consumers shift their attention to non-ad-supported media.
The good news is that the total amount of time Americans spent consuming media rose to 70.7 hours per week last year. The bad news for Madison Avenue is that the share of time spent with ad-supported media fell to 44.4%, its lowest point ever.
The report, published by PQ Media, projects that ad-supported media’s share of consumer time will fall to 42.5% by 2021, as consumers shift more of their time and attention to media that has little or no advertising in it -- mainly subscription services for consuming video, audio and other forms of media.
“I can’t agree with him on the 30% [projection],” Leo Kivijarv, a partner at PQ Media -- who, along with founder Patrick Quinn, authored the new report.
“I read and re-read Rishad’s comments,” Quinn said, adding: “I have a lot of respect for Rishad.” But PQ is sticking with its more moderate rate of ad-supported media erosion over the near term, because the analysts believe it’s not a wholesale abandonment of advertising, but more of a shift to new forms, such as brand integrations and content marketing that may not fit into classic categorization.
The bigger question, says Quinn, is the overall “deceleration” in the rapid expansion of consumer time spent with media that happened with the Internet, mobile and other forms of digital media.
“What’s the next new thing?” he ponders, adding that PQ is closely tracking the emergence of new platforms such as IoT, bots, AI and so-called “proximity marketing” and “smart technology” that could make brand marketing less blatant and more integrated into media experiences.
“Things like McCormick & Co., which is working with MIT to figure out how to recommend its spices to consumers when someone opens their smart refrigerator,” Quinn explains.
Meanwhile, ad-supported media continues to dominate share of consumer time on a global basis, largely thanks to the role that traditional media continue to play in developing markets worldwide. According to PQ’s latest projections, ad-supported media currently represents two-thirds (66.5%) of the 7.3 hours consumers spend with media worldwide. PQ projects that ad-supported media’s share will fall to 63.4% by 2021.