Quality time

Time to look at time again.  As we await the IAB’s half-yearly update on internet ad revenue, Sir Martin Sorrell’s recent comments about the proportion of people’s time spent online compared to the proportion of online advertising money have come to mind.  His belief is that online media are being under-invested in compared to the time spent online.

Is the amount of time spent with a medium the most important reason for advertising money to follow?  It is certainly a sign of a medium’s vitality and popularity if we are choosing to spend time with it – and if no one is using your medium they can’t be exposed to any advertising on it. But is quantity the be all and end all?

The answer is obviously no. Quantity is an important measure, but it is more about the quality of the time we spend with media; ultimately it is about effectiveness. More on that next week when we launch Payback 3, our major study by Ebiquity looking at ROI.

But, just for sport, and because a picture is worth a thousand words, we thought we’d have a look anyway.  What might be true globally might not be true here in the UK.

First of all, here is a bar chart which shows the proportion of our media day that is spent with different media, according to IPA Touchpoints 3 data (and hence excludes OOH, DM and ambient), alongside their share of the total ad revenue for those sectors, according to the Advertising Association’s official figures. It’s based on the full year data for 2010:


So that tells a story doesn’t it. It suggests that TV and radio should actually get a lot more advertising spend than they currently do and that the internet and press are already significantly over-invested in.

But we realised that this isn’t fair because it includes time spent watching and listening to the BBC, which is explicitly non-commercial time. So we ran the numbers again, taking out time spent watching BBC TV and listening to BBC radio.  Ideally, we would have removed time spent with the BBC online too (and that is quite a lot when you include BBC Player) but that wasn’t available; so here it is again, just as percentages of the media day spent with commercial media only.


The time shares for print and online go up and radio comes down.  But here’s the surprising thing;  TV’s share of the commercial media day also goes up a little because the overall % reduction in time for the commercial media day is bigger than the % reduction for TV alone.  Please run the figures yourself, but we promise that they are true.

So, there you go. Plain to see.  On second thoughts, forget all that effectiveness twaddle. Sir Martin is clearly right and time spent with a medium should be the only yardstick by which ad spend is apportioned. Kerching.

  • Tess Alps
    Tess Alps
    Chair, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
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