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Ad:Tech Keynote: ‘Marketers Are In An Epic Battle For Consumer Attention’

The consumer is everywhere, said Geoff Ramsey, CIO of market researcher eMarketer, who gave the keynote this morning at the ad:tech New York conference in New York City.  

“Fragmentation rules,” Ramsey said, which makes getting through to consumers a hard task for marketers.

According to eMarketer, Americans spend 12 hours per day with media. That amount of time has grown an hour in the past six years and is now reaching a saturation point. Breaking it down, Ramsey said that TV takes up 4.7 hours per day, while other digital media clocks in at five hours and 42 minutes.

Since digital includes several different screens, TV is still king based on time spent watching, Ramsey said. When you break out digital by mobile and desktop, mobile grabs about three hours and seven minutes, while two hours and nine minutes goes to desktop media consumption.

“Mobile isn’t just a medium,” Ramsey said. “It has become an addiction. Look at Millennials. One-fifth of Millennials check their phones over 10 times an hour.”

When asked about the item that is most vital to their daily lives, 96% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 34) said their mobile phone, 93% said their toothbrush, and 90% said deodorant. “They would rather have rotten teeth and smell bad than lose their mobile devices,” Ramsey said.

Even on the phone itself, Ramsey said, there is huge fragmentation in time and attention. Apps represent 96% of phone usage, followedy by email (90%) and search (85%).

Consumer usage of apps trumps their usage of the mobile web, and 82% of smartphone owners use one to six apps per day. “If you are not one of the six, good luck,” Ramsey told attendees. “It’s hard to break through.” After two weeks, only 9% of mobile users return to a typical app after using it once.

The ratio is similar for television. While the majority of consumers have approximately 206 channels nowadays, they’re only watching about 20 (less than 10%) regularly, Ramsey said. Furthermore, people’s attention is split across multiple devices.

“You may think people are watching your TV commercial, but they are probably looking down at their second screen,” Ramsey said. “And most of the time [75%] what they are watching on that second screen is unrelated to what they are watching on TV.”  

Overall, eMarketer found that 85% of Internet users access the web while watching TV. A lot of that attention goes to social media, with Facebook the leader.

Currently, Facebook represents about 52% of social media usage overall, followed by Instagram (21%), Snapchat (18%), Pinterest (17%), and Twitter (16%). Facebook also rules the roost for Millennial social media usage, Ramsey said. Seventy-three percent of Millennials use Facebook daily, following by WhatsApp (55%), YouTube (54%), Instagram (53%), Twitter (49%), and Snapchat (41%).

“Our attention is only going to get more fragmented as the number of devices grow,” Ramsey said. “It’s only going to get worse.”

To date, there are approximately 14 billion devices connected to the Internet. That means almost two devices per person on this planet. EMarketer predicts 35 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

Besides fragmentation in media consumption, Ramsey pointed out another growing obstacle to consumer attention: the “adblockalypse.”

“Consumers are choosing to use tech to eradicate or take away the ads that are interrupting the experience,” Ramsey said.

Twenty-six percent of internet users currently use an ad blocker, and that number is expected to reach 32% in 2017. “The No. 1 reason for installing ad blockers is that consumers find ads are interruptive, intrusive, or annoying,” Ramsey said. “They’re pissing people off.”

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