If there are any doubts that connectivity is increasingly affecting consumer behaviors and beliefs, the data should quickly put them to rest. In fact, almost 70% of respondents in a recent global survey believe digital exchanges are replacing face-to-face interactions. But how important is our growing digital dependence? According to respondents in a recent Nielsen/Interactive Advertising Bureau Canada study, the answer is very—and it’s only going to increase going forward.
But when we look at what’s important to Canadian consumers—today and tomorrow—responses don’t focus on technology from a device perspective. They focus on how “connected” devices are, and that connectivity drives how important a piece of technology is—and will be in the years ahead.
For example, 71% of respondents say traditional TV is either very or somewhat important in their lives today, which is much higher than the 34% who say web-enabled TV is important. Flash forward just three years and the responses change notably at both ends: 63% say traditional TV will be important, while 46% say web-enabled TV will be.
The same is true for connectivity away from the home or office. While beliefs about the personal computer today and in three years aren’t drastically different, responses about the importance of mobile connectivity clearly illustrate the expectation that we’re moving closer to being plugged in everywhere with each passing year.
If there’s one activity that’s doing laps around all others when it comes to being connected, it’s watching TV. In addition to fostering a boom in social TV, our second screens allow us to multi-task across an array of other activities, like playing games, shopping and sharing photos with friends and family across social media networks. And when we participate in these and myriad other activities while we watch TV, it’s interesting to note that the personal computer is still the most popular second screen in our arsenal of devices. It’s also noteworthy that 29% of consumers don’t use a second screen while watching TV.
When we look at different age groups, second-screen preferences vary. While 31% of all respondents use the computer most often, 36% of Millennials (age 18-34) prefer their smartphones. That percentage drops to 8% among people age 55 and older. Viewers 35-54 are slightly more likely to watch with a tablet in hand, and people 55 and older are the most likely to watch without a second device.
So what are we doing while we’re watching TV? Much like device preference, our second-screen activities vary by age and gender. Overall, we spend the most time using Facebook, but usage is higher among people 55 and older than Millennials. And the opposite is true when it comes to texting and other types of instant messaging: Usage among Millennials is almost twice that of viewers 55 and older.
As device and connectivity penetration continue to grow in importance, the key for marketers is knowing what consumers look for and want as TV and web-based devices merge. Because people are people, it’s no surprise that the most important feature is the ability to receive rewards and incentives (55% of respondents). Other top features center on how well advertisers know their customers: Respondents want messages that are relevant (to needs and interest), customized and interactive.
The insights in this article were derived from the English-language 2014 IAB Canada/Nielsen Survey.