Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
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“29% fall in the similarity of media habits”: Consumers’ media usage drops and diverges

A new IPA report shows that the commercial media usage of UK consumers is continuing to decline, equating to a 15% decrease over seven years. Significantly, the majority of lost media usage can be attributed to changing behaviours of those aged 16-34.

The commercial media usage of UK consumers is declining, with consumers spending almost an hour less time consuming curated commercial media since 2015. Meanwhile, there is a 29% fall in the similarity of media habits between the generations year-on-year as consumers revert to behaviour seen before the pandemic in 2020.

These are some of the findings from a new IPA report, Making Sense: The Commercial Media Landscape (Fifth Edition) published today which pinpoints how, where and when commercial media is being consumed.

Younger generation fuels fall in time spent with curated commercial media

According to the research, the amount of time all adults (aged 16+) are spending with curated commercial media per day has fallen from 5 hours 35-minutes to 4 hours 44-minutes. This equates to a 15% decrease over seven years among all adults and a 5% decrease since pre-lockdown 2020 IPA TouchPoints data.

By age group since 2015:

  • 16-34s: now spend 1 hour 22-minutes less with curated commercial media, a 22% decrease.
  • 35-54s: an eight-minute fall since 2015, a 3% decrease.
  • Over 55s: when looking at the long-term trend from 2015, there is an eight-minute, 3%, increase up from 4 hours 34-minutes.

Media habits diverge across generations

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic fuelling a significant convergence of media habits, as outlined in last year’s IPA report, the latest data shows this trend is reversing.

16-34s now spend 80% of their commercial media time with digital media platforms and, for the first time, each of the top five media properties among this age group are video sharing and social media platforms – led by Facebook and followed by YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

17% of the time 16-34s spend with commercial media is now with ‘Other Online Video’, up from 4.0% in 2015. In addition, the dominance of the smartphone is fuelled by 16-34s who now spend 54% of their curated commercial media time on their phones. This has grown from 33% in 2015.

The disruption of the past few years has seen further fragmentation of the media landscape alongside an overall decline in curated commercial media opportunities which makes it increasingly complex to effectively engage with consumers and optimise media spend accordingly. Accurate, detailed data and diverse media plans are therefore crucial.

Simon Frazier, Head of TouchPoints Marketing & Data Innovation, IPA

The full 2023 Making Sense: The Commercial Media Landscape (Fifth edition) report and the IPA TouchPoints data is available for free for IPA TouchPoints subscribers, while an eight-page Executive Summary is free for everyone to download.