‘Adlanders’ no proxy for general viewing habits

Industry workers are much more likely to dual-screen and time-shift, study shows

Actor Robin Wright attends a special screening of Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ in Los Angeles last week – some 57 per cent of ‘adland’ workers use the internet once a week or more to watch TV programmes. photograph: eric charbonneau for netflix

Watched all of Netflix's House of Cards season two yet? Checked out TV3's ShowPal app? Perhaps surreptitiously downloading episodes of True Detective is your new favourite thing, or you're the person who records four shows at once via UPC's Horizon?

Workers in the advertising, media and marketing industry are more likely than the general population to have viewing habits such as these, a new study of “adland” indicates.

TV ratings body TAM Ireland and measurement company Nielsen have researched the extent to which "Adlanders" are early adopters when it comes to habits such as time-shifting using personal video recorders (PVRs) and dual-screening.

The study, which compared the answers of 150 respondents to information collected by Nielsen on the general viewing public, found that industry workers “time-shift” (record for later viewing) an average of 49 minutes of television content daily, compared to 18 minutes for viewers at large. It also found that “Adlanders” are four times more likely to use their Twitter account daily and almost three times more likely to use a social media account while watching television (known as dual or second-screening).


Even taking into account the age of respondents, “Adlanders” were more prolific social media users. Some 45 per cent used their social media account while watching television daily, compared to 27 per cent of viewers aged 15-34 and 16 per cent of the general viewing public.

“We think everyone is on Twitter, but they’re not,” says TAM Ireland chief executive Jill McGrath. “People in the industry are much more prolific users of social media, and also much keener on dual-screening. They are just very early adopters.”

McGrath says the findings serve as a reminder to people in the industry that their preferences do not represent those of the “typical” viewer.

Some 57 per cent of “adland” viewers use the internet at home once a week or more for watching television programmes, compared to 24 per cent of general viewers. They are also more likely to download entertainment content, with 37 per cent saying they do so more than once a week, compared to 20 per cent of viewers at large.

There were also gaps in behaviour for purchasing goods and services online, general use of social media and device ownership – some 28 per cent of viewers have a tablet computer in their household, while 78 per cent of “Adlanders” do.

Some 54 per cent of “TV homes” in Ireland now have a PVR (sometimes known as a DVR), which is usually a function of their package provider's set-top box. The latest figures show that viewing of “linear” or “scheduled” television accounts for 91 per cent of television viewing time, while 9 per cent is time-shifted.

This percentage of “live” viewing has nudged down only fractionally in recent years – it was 93 per cent in 2011 – despite an increase in ownership of PVRs over that time. “The schedulers are getting smarter, because they have to,” says McGrath. The convenience factor is also helping broadcasters keep eyeballs. “It is very easy to just sit down and turn on the telly.”

The extent of competition from on-demand – in other words, the percentage of total audio-visual viewing time assigned to catch-up services, Netflix, YouTube, illegally downloaded content and other sources – is not recorded in the official TAM Ireland / Nielsen figures. But research to date suggests that linear television has been remarkably resistant to competition from on-demand, with an average of more than three hours of "live" television still consumed daily.

TAM Ireland will present the latest Ipsos / MRBI findings on multi-device viewing habits in April. Last year’s survey found that people watched an average of 216 minutes of audio-visual content on a typical day and that 182 minutes of this (84 per cent) was linear television.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics