Measuring the effects of multiple screen usage

It is common knowledge that as a society, we are multi-tasking more than ever. OTX think we fit 31 hours worth of tasks into a single day, and our lack of down-time is being blamed for our increased sleeplessness.

Seeing some of the Childwise Monitor report data emphasised some of the difficulties that this presents to the TV industry. According to the report, children aged 5-16 spend an average of five and a half hours in front of a screen every day - whether it is a TV, a games console or a computer. But what is most striking is that around a third of children (I think- I didn’t make notes) say that they go on the Internet while they watch TV.

New research from Thinkbox is even more striking. Initial results indicate that as many as two thirds of adults use TV and the Internet simultaneously.

The battle for share of attention is becoming increasingly competitive, and TV is at a disadvantage. TV is inherently a sit-back, passive media. The Internet is lean-forward and active. Some argue that this is the reason why total TV viewing has been going up - people are increasingly utilising it as background noise while they surf the Internet.

So, how does TV ensure that it remains the focal point for viewers? Ideally, it would be through compelling storylines. But, judging by the content of contemporary advertising, it is going to be jumpy edits, fast cuts, bright colours and loud noise. And paradoxically, the more programmes or adverts that utilise these techniques, the less they stand out. Nowadays, silence standing out.

Before this situation can be addressed, the impact needs to be quantified. This could be done accurately – albeit expensively – through a combination of eye-tracking for television, and return path data for online.

Discovering the change in proportion of eyesight-to-screen when a pc is present, and the differences in time spent per page when a TV is on would allow us to measure the relative change in attention. This can be underlined by a survey measuring recall of messages in both media. Some very powerful insights could result from this type of research - what grabs the most attention, how people flip back and forth, and so on.

It is not entirely unreasonable to expect some positive results for TV companies in the research. Counter-intuitively, spending time on the Internet may in fact enhance attention to some programme. According to the Childwise study, two of the most popular online activities were instance messaging and social networking. Could they be talking about the TV programming, and reinforcing the messages communicated to them?

The popularity of liveblogging indicates that this isn’t as far-fetched as one might originally think.

sk

Online video: Today and tomorrow


Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/blake/

MediaGuardian reports that the BBC iPlayer is seeing significant growth while ITV.com has been left “trailing”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for ITV, nor the other commercial broadcasters. In this situation, a smaller piece of a bigger pie is better than a large piece of a small pie. With new and emerging technology, the major battle is for it to gain traction and acceptance among the mainstream. Fortunately for ITV et al, not only does the BBC have the muscle (and the inclination) to do this, but its unique status means that there will only be limited opportunity for advertising revenues. Once the technology embeds, this leaves it the smaller, commercial rivals to battle it out with the Joosts, babelgums and so on for the cash.

Furthermore, there is a rather large Kangaroo looming on the horizon, and it has yet to be finalised how this is to fit in with these different offerings. At the launch it was announced:

BBC iPlayer content will be listed within the new service, while Channel 4′s website will host a catch-up service which will see 4oD “evolve into the new [Kangaroo] service”.

Channel 4 are suitably vague, while there is no mention of how ITV.com, Five Download (notably absent from the launch) and any other eager player will fit in alongside this service.

Interesting, a quote from the article read:

“Right now, however, the big winner is YouTube, which accounts for over a third of online video viewing, according to comScore,” “This suggests that short-form entertainment may be more appealing to internet audiences.”

Can the iPlayer and the Kangaroo buck this trend, or will it be the clips that drive online video usage. For me, that will be decided by future broadband speeds. My online viewing is rarely planned, and so I prefer to stream low quality clips than plan a high-quality download. If only I lived in Japan.

sk

The future of reputation

Following on from my previous post regarding personal information stored on the Internet, a new book by Daniel Solove has come to my attention. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet is fully available online to read, and explores how gossip and rumour collide with fact.

The synopsis is:

Daniel Solove, an authority on information privacy law, offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations. Focusing on blogs, Internet communities, cyber mobs, and other current trends, he shows that, ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet may impede opportunities for self-development and freedom. Longstanding notions of privacy need review, the author contends: unless we establish a balance among privacy, free speech, and anonymity, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.

The book is also available for purchase

Via apophenia

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