Nielsen

While the number of media platforms continues to grow and evolve, the share of time spent with ad-supported content has remained flat over the past decade, at 86% in 2017. According to new data from Nielsen, “This new age of media consumption allows marketers and advertisers to reach consumers in more ways than ever before and do so with ease.”

Looking across a variety of ad-supported content on radio, TV, smartphones, video games and tablets, for adults the share of time spent in 2002 was 89%, just 3 percentage points higher. Nielsen points out that this was an era when avenues of consumption were mainly via television and radio.

“These statistics have even more significance when considering the availability of different devices over time and the ultimately substantial growth in time spent with media overall,” Nielsen points out in the post on its Insights blog. “Engagement with ad-supported content has kept pace while more and more devices have been introduced into the media ecosystem.”

And while 96% of U.S. homes have a TV, other devices are slowly reaching ubiquity as well. The rate of penetration for PCs has slowed, but the devices can still be found in 80% of U.S. TV homes in 2017; while tablet and smartphone penetration levels have quickly grown to 64% and 89%, respectively. Subscription video on demand (SVOD) services have now surpassed penetration levels of time-shifted brethren DVR use (62% vs. 55%). And tagging new platforms, about two-thirds of homes have an internet-enabled connected device capable of streaming content to a television set, which includes enabled smart TVs (34%), multimedia devices (36%) and video game consoles (42%).

Despite the high adoption rates for so many devices, Nielsen points out that engagement with ad-supported content has remained strong, “in part because consumers’ time with media hasn’t remained a finite resource.” In fact, “the amount of time consumers are allocating toward media is expanding,” increasing by more than 25 hours between 2002 and 2017. “Time spent with ad-supported content has grown and maintained a consistent ratio with overall time spent.”

For example, in second-quarter 2007, the average amount of time spent with media among adults was just over 50 hours per week. In second-quarter 2017, that number increased to over 75 hours per week—nearly 65 hours of which are spent with ad-supported platforms. Since second-quarter 2012, the average amount of time spent with ad-supported TV, radio and digital platforms has grown by over 15 hours—a robust increase of 30% to 2017. When looking as far back as second-quarter 2002, that same number exceeds 20 hours.

“Although consumption of ad-supported media has varied over the past 15 years, it is still far more dominant and successful than perception may indicate,” Nielsen concludes. “Today, ad-supported content remains a consumption stalwart as consumers’ media palates expand and consumption habits swell. While such revenue models have existed for some time, they seemingly have the versatility and adaptability to keep pace with an ultimately dynamic and fragmented landscape.”