Marketers Mismatch Their Media Habits With Average Americans

A recent survey by the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) found that marketers and advertisers consume media much differently than the typical consumer. While this might not be a big surprise, there is a strong possibility that media buyers are relying too much to their own media habits in determining ad spends which could be affecting marketing outcomes.

In what is a perception versus reality set up, ad executives either assume that the average person has the same media routine as them, or simply misestimate people’s media habits.

In general, the advertising community is more affluent, more connected, skews male and younger than the US population, is more likely to own every major digital device (computer, DVR, smartphone, and tablet) yet have less household TV’s, and stream more content via smart TV’s and OTT devices. Also, advertisers tend to be busier and more “on the go” than the average American.

“The advertising business is running so fast to keep up with digital platforms that we’re outpacing the market, and creating an echo chamber that warps our perspective on the people we’re trying to reach,” said Danielle DeLauro, VAB’s Senior VP, Strategic Sales Insights.

Where this gap is most notable is with video consumption. Compared to Nielsen’s Q3 16 Comparative Analysis Report, the 250 surveyed marketers estimate of adults’ TV video consumption is off by over 50 percentage points:

Also, advertisers think that adults are only watching TV 2 hours or less each day while Nielsen says it’s actually 4 hours and 35 minutes per day.

“Go to any advertising conference today, and you hear about what’s next at the expense of what’s now, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that no one is watching live TV and everyone is on social media all day. The problem with this myopic focus on what’s new and next is that marketers need to sell products today, and that requires a precise understanding of how people are actually using media now,” said DeLauro.

The report goes on to show that advertisers’ think we spend more time watching video on computers and mobile devices, while less on TV, than what Nielsen stats show. While VAB proponents and Neilsen have vested interests in TV viewership success, the study seems to indicate that marketers might be little distorted when evaluating consumers’ media habits.