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March 15, 2019


Quite often, cross-platform media planning is more of an art than a science, where creative leaps must be made to bridge the gap between the audience research available for one medium versus another. This is particularly the case when trying to gauge reach across media, and in our just-released report, Cross-Platform Dimensions 2019, we devote considerable effort to the art of estimating reach for multimedia campaigns, and assert that it is crucial if a campaign is to be looked at as more than a collection of “mini-buys” that don’t affect each other. As we state:

This sort of analysis is relevant if an advertiser is interested in knowing how the various components of an alternative media mix interact, for example, if TV and magazines are used, how much of their reach is exposed to both media? How much only to TV? How much only to print? We believe that it is long overdue for media plans to present a more complete picture of their total media effort to advertisers and, even better, to start considering reasonable alternatives as opposed to focusing only on “the plan.” If you don’t compare the audience size and duplication of various media mixes when evaluating alternatives, you aren’t seeing the whole picture.

With this in mind, we were pleased to see that Nielsen just released findings using its “Total Content Ratings” to explore which TV genres get the most lift from digital viewing. They found that cable dramas ranked the highest, with a 9% digital lift over viewing these programs through traditional means. Broadcast sitcoms and reality programs came in close, each with 8% lifts. Nielsen attributes this digital boost to the fact that cable dramas and, to a lesser extent, the broadcast comedies and reality shows skew younger, and younger viewers are more likely to view programming on non-traditional platforms. While this dovetails with commonly-held beliefs about audience composition and platform usage, the fact that Nielsen has quantified these assumptions is a step forward for media planners and interested parties, including us. We look forward to future findings, to see how the science and art of cross-platform planning can be more fully integrated.

More information about Cross-Platform Dimensions 2019, which includes a lengthy chapter on our cross-platform reach analyses, can be found here, as well as on our website.


The latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should provide welcome news to TV people. Based on responses from their 2017 American Time Use Survey, the BLS found that Americans spent an average of 5.24 hours daily on leisure and sports activities. Older adults, those with less education, and those with no children in their households (these categories may overlap) had more time to spend on leisure than the average. 

We took a closer look at their data to examine the distribution of leisure time by activity, and it will undoubtedly be good news to the TV folks that more than half the total population’s daily leisure time was devoted to this medium. Interestingly, men devoted a larger proportion of their leisure time to TV than their female counterparts, which is somewhat at odds with the prevailing thought that women are the greater consumers of the medium. On the other hand—and as expected—younger people (aged 20-24) allocated much more substantial portions of their leisure time to socializing and communicating, as well as playing games and non-work/school computer use.

Perhaps the most sobering statistics are revealed by the categories where Americans spend the least amount of their leisure time: reading and relaxing/thinking (italics ours). Not even those with a Bachelor’s degree or more spent 10% on reading, and we wonder how much of the admittedly-nebulous relaxing/thinking category was actually devoted to thinking. The numbers are poor to begin with, and we suspect the numbers would be worse if thinking were broken out from relaxing. It certainly goes a long way in explaining a lot of what’s wrong with our country these days. Stay tuned.


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