Simultaneous, Concurrent & Meshing Usage

Why is cross-media storytelling more than an artistic choice? People are crossing media already, using many types of media everyday and using more than one at a time. There has been plenty of industry research (particularly from the advertising industry) about media usage, but the following are significant. The latest one was released on the 26th September this year and is described as ‘the most comprehensive observational media use study ever undertaken’. The Ball State University study, Middletown Media Studies 2 (MMS2), followed about 400 ‘ordinary people’ in Muncie and Indianapolis, recording on a PDA every 15 secs what media they were using. they observed them from the time they woke up until the time they went to sleep, observing on average for 12.9 hours per day and ending up with over 5,000 hours of observation and 1.2 million pieces of data. Conducted by Mike Bloxham, Robert Papper, Mark Popovich and Michael Holmes, it found a high occurance of what they term concurrent media exposure: ‘exposure to content from multiple media simultaneously available through shared or shifting attention’. They found 120 possible different combinations of concurrent media exposure. That is 120 different possible stereo experiences and cross-media configurations.

Some Stats:
* 96.3 percent of the sample indulged in concurrent media usage 30.7 percent of the media day;
* The average person spends about nine hours a day using some type of media;
* 39 percent of the day was spent with media while involved in some other activity;
* 30 percent of all media time is spent exposed to more than one medium at a time;
* Levels of concurrent media exposure were higher among those 40 to 65 than people 18 to 39;
* Women spend more time multitasking with two or more types of media than men (we all knew that!);

Sources: Online Publishers Association, Media Week, MediaPost, Christian Science Monitor.

The other significant research I’m aware of is the research into simultaneous media usage. Some findings were published in the paper ‘Simultaneous media usage: A critical consumer orientation to media planning‘ in Journal of Consumer Behaviour. The study looked at 12,322 respondents, ‘sampled via an online network’ and was published in 2004. A very cheerful American presenter will explain the BigResearch survey here. This survey is interesting because it delves further into the media combinations.

Some Stats:
* 70% of consumers, at one time or another, use media simultaneously;
* Going online top simultaneous medium for radio listeners;
* Newspapers best companion for television watchers;
* When listening to radio 57.3% simultaneously go online, 46.9% read newspaper and 17.7% watch TV;
* Newspapers are a TV watcher?s best friend;
* For those online whilst watching TV: they prefer documentaries on the background;
* Movies are the preferred programming for people who read newspapers and also watching TV (64.3%) followed by police detective shows (56%) and situation comedies (51.5%.);
* 52.4% of newspaper readers say they watch TV and 49.6% say they listen to the radio when reading the newspaper;
* More women (52.4%) than men (49.6%) prefer reading the newspaper and listening to the radio simultaneously;
* When online, 61.8% say they also watch TV, 52.1% listen to the radio and 20.2% are reading the newspaper.

What the report also stated was that the 18-34 year old television viewer was down 8.8% and 25-34 year olds were down 12.2%. ‘What are they doing instead of watching TV while online? They are playing video games.’ Now, the news that this age-group were playing video games is no news, but I’m wondering. In the context of CME/SIMM/MM, are video game players not multitasking?

In a Video Gaming Industry Benchmark Report on Emerging Markets, Spending, and Cross-Media Ownership for Interactive Entertainment conducted by Nielsen Entertainment (which still isn’t avialable) the question still isn’t answered. The report was conducted by a random digital dial frame (RDD) (is that a random phone call?) of over 1500 respondents during January and February 2005. The study looks at Gamer demographics; Penetration figures; Cross ownership; Purchase behavior along with rental and usage behavior; Purchase motivators; Attitudes towards next generation hardware. Although the cross ownership stats will be interesting, I’m hoping with will be coupled with information about usage behaviour and particularly tracking consumption within a franchise.

Some Stats
* There is a strong connection between DVD and game consumption to be exploited in marketing and cross-promotion;
* 40% of U.S. households own at least one of the following game systems for game play — PC, home console or handheld device.
* 23% of gamers own all three types of gaming devices — PC, console and handheld;
* Among those who own a gaming device, 89% own a console, 65% own a PC, 36% own
a handheld;
* Active gamers typically spend approximately 5.2 hours playing by themselves with a large proportion also being spent playing socially (3.07 hours per week with friends and family or online);
* Among females, the split between solo and social game play is even more equitable with younger females 13-17 tending to play more with friends or family (54% of the time) and women 25-34 playing almost as much socially as alone.
* Males and females 45 and older are markedly different, spending almost all their time (79%) playing alone.

Released on 27th Sept was an ‘in-depth study’ of 13-24 year olds in 11 countries: Truly, Madly, Deeply Engaged: Global Youth, Media and Technology. The report, by Yahoo!Inc. and OMDWorldwide, was qualitative and quantitative. The former had 16 focus groups and 15 in-home ethnographies in six countries (Chicago, Mexico City, London, Berlin, Seoul, and Shanghai) with participants representing teens, aged 15-18, and young adults, aged 20-22. The quantitative component was an online survey with over 5,334 respondents, aged 13-24 and was conducted in Julyand August this year. This generation, what they term the My Media Generation: who are ‘highly motivated by the need for community and self-expression’, ‘have developed an immense capacity to multitask’.

Some Stats:
* Can fit up to 44 hours of activities in just one day;
* Ability to perform up to three tasks simultaneously, using multiple technologies;
* On average the global My Media Generation performs approximately three to four other tasks while surfing the Internet and approximately two to three other tasks while watching television;
* Traditional media are often pushed to “background” status in the “media-meshing” hierarchy;
* Turning to the Internet for content;
* TV serves as a mechanism for escape and entertainment…

Source: Finanzen.

Simultaneous Media Usage: “multiple exposures to various media forms at a single point in time for the same media consumer” [source]
Concurrent Media Exposure: “exposure to content from multiple media simultaneously available through shared or shifting attention” [source]
Media Meshing: “is a behavioral phenomenon that occurs when people begin an experience in one medium, such as watching television, then shift to another, such as surfing the Internet, and maybe even a third, such as listening to music. The explanation for this behavior is the constant search for complementary information, different perspectives, and even emotional fulfillment.” [source]

Don’t let me let you astray you though. Cross-media storytelling isn’t just about using more than one media at once, and it isn’t just about media convergence (rebroadcasting the same content over multiple media). Cross-media storytellers recognise that messages are delivered in many forms, and can combine them in symphonic experiences: sometimes in stereo and sometimes one after another. Gary gives more info and an experienced analysis at his blog too.

5 thoughts on “Simultaneous, Concurrent & Meshing Usage

  1. I’m disciplining myself to 30 mins. per-week-day to explore your sites and ponder … morsels
    are emerging. Am curious about the effect on the brain and [evolution of] Thank you. hja

  2. Hello Alan. Thankyou for the compliment and your site looks very interesting too! I must say, your questions sounds like a test. So, feel free to give me a call or email to do this properly! 😉

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