Let’s Get Digital: Top 3 Findings from Arbitron Survey

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. households have access to the Internet. Two-thirds of homes with Internet access have Wi-Fi network. More than half of Americans 12 years and older have a Facebook page. These are just some of the highlights that Arbitron, a radio rating and media research company, and Edison Research released in the results of their recent survey, Navigating Digital Platforms.

The survey combines a cross section of previous research spanning thirteen years of inquiries into traditional, new, and digital media preferences and user habits.

Here are the three top takeaway trends, discoveries, and significant implications that will affect marketing decisions today and tomorrow.

1.     The growth of smartphones requires a re-evaluation of customer relationships. Smartphone ownership has tripled since 2009. Now, 31 percent of 12+ year olds, nearly 50 percent of 18-34 year olds, and 39 percent of 35-44 year olds own a smartphone. Nearly 6 in 10 smartphone owners say they would give up television before giving up their smartphone.

 Businesses must be prepared to accommodate smartphone users by implementing marketing tactics and incentives, like a website designed for mobile functionality.

2.     Social media proficiency should become a skill set. It’s essential today for companies to follow these three rules: establish a social media policy; consider requesting social media experience when hiring new employees; and assign social media duties to principals or staff members.

Facebook is on a trajectory to become a mainstream media platform. Every business should have a Facebook page and they should be engaging their customers’ interaction.

3.     Digital platforms are helping Americans consume more of all forms of media. HD, XM and satellite radio, Pandora, and Internet video are not taking away from traditional radio listeners and TV viewers. According to the survey these digital resources are just providing additional options for consumers to get an added variety of their audio and video content.

Below is an overview of the digital platform landscape: 2001 vs. 2011.

Digital Platforms/Devices Graph

This chart demonstrates that though very little movement has occurred in television and radio users/owners since 2001, access to online radio and online video has more than doubled.

One of the most intriguing outcomes from this study is that although new platforms and devices have made their way into everyday lives, they have had little impact on TV viewership and radio listenership.

The study found that the majority of 12-34 year olds turn to the internet first for music discovery, while radio leads among 35+ year olds. Digital audio users spend as much time with radio as the average listener, not less. Heavy usage of one medium is not necessarily associated with less time with other media. The combined time spent per day with radio, TV and Internet has increased 20 percent since 2001. (2001: 6 hours, 50 minutes; 2011: 8 hours, 11 minutes).

Consumers have quickly embraced online technology as a resource. Marketers must embrace it as well, and use research like this to help prepare and direct our messaging effectively.

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