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Multiscreeners in the UK More Likely to Avoid Ads

TV ad breaks are largely ignored by UK viewers with a complementary screen

October 23, 2013

UK consumers are increasingly using another device—sometimes more than one—while they watch TV, and according to survey data from Deloitte, these complementary devices take the attention of TV viewers during ad breaks.

In a July 2013 survey among a base of UK internet users who used another screen while watching TV, a substantial 71% said they were likely to use the other device to pass time during ad breaks or program junctions.

Attitudes Toward Simultaneous TV and Mobile Device Usage According to UK Internet Users*, July 2013 (% of respondents)

This kind of multiscreening activity is becoming increasingly common, not just in terms of the number of people who are doing it, but also in terms of how frequently they do it. According to data from media law firm Wiggin, large proportions of UK internet users have an extra screen to hand while they’re watching TV. In a March 2013 study, it found that among younger demographics, this behavior was particularly prevalent, with 88% of 15- to 19-year-old respondents and 80% of 20- to 24-year-olds using a complementary screen.

UK Internet Users Who Use a Second Screen While Watching TV, by Age, March 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

The Deloitte study, meanwhile, highlighted that this type of behavior was also very frequent. It asked UK internet users who had a mobile device to hand while watching TV how often they used both screens simultaneously. Laptops and netbooks were used in concert with TV viewing every day by 59% of respondents. Smartphone usage wasn’t far behind, cited by 53%, with tablets used by 50% of users every day. The proportions for those using these devices simultaneously at least once a week were, in some cases, over 90%.

Frequency of Simultaneous TV and Mobile Device Usage Among UK Internet Users*, by Device, July 2013 (% of respondents)

Among UK internet users, at least, lots of multiscreening is going on lots of the time. And given that these complementary screens often take the role of primary viewing device during ad breaks, advertisers need to think creatively about how they can retain TV viewers’ attention. Failure to engage will leave them marginalized in this multiscreen environment.

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