Multi-taskers engage differently across multiple devices

DetailsEditor | 12 March 2015

Attempting to gain insight into viewer behaviours in a multi-device environment, a YuMe study commissioned by Nielsen has found that multi-taskers exhibit differing levels of engagement on multiple devices.

yiumenielsenThe research experiment was designed to explore how viewers engage with devices when put in situations that are conducive for multi-tasking, in order to address the issue of how device interactions can provide the greatest value for brand advertisers.

To understand the individual behaviours within multi-tasking, the online advertising firm commissioned Nielsen to conduct in-lab observations across 200 respondents over a two-month period from October to November 2014, in which video consumers were instructed to engage with any of the devices as they would naturally at home for 20 uninterrupted minutes.

The survey found that even for multi-taskers, TV was still the initial medium of choice, but some participants quickly switched their attention, opting to begin seeking out content on other devices. In the experimental environment, TV provided a constant background, even if the participants were not interested in the specific programme that was airing at the time and choosing to engage with content on other devices; the shift to other devices typically happened within the first few minutes.

Even though television was the most used device, used 53% across all respondents, the participants spent less than half of that time paying attention to it while it was on. Attention to television dropped from over half of multi-taskers to under 20% of multi-taskers in the first four minutes.

In the study, of all the ads that were shown, 30% of ads on TV were seen, compared with 71% of those on laptops. For tablets this rose to 93%. Furthermore a campaign served to the same number of multi-tasking consumers on each device would be seen by more than twice as many viewers on laptops and more than three times as many on tablets or smartphones than on TV. Pre-roll was generally more effective than mid-roll at ensuring multi-tasking viewers were attentive to advertising.

Yet when a participant found content they were interested in watching on television, they were much more likely to maintain their focus on the TV set.

"No one is debating that consumers are multi-tasking. This ethnographic study was specifically designed to garner insights into users' behaviours and preferences while multi-tasking," commented YuMe director of research Paul Neto. "Despite distraction levels among consumers, it will be important for brand advertisers to continue running campaigns cross-screen, as viewers continue to show they are also attentive on laptops, tablets, and/or smartphones while 'watching' TV."