Content Consumption: How We Consume Content Now (and What It Means For Your Marketing!)9 min read
What are your Content Consumption Habits?
Chances are you have one or more devices within arm’s reach.
Don’t worry you’re not alone!
71% of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphone (Bank America research).
And this doesn’t include other devices such as a television, tablet, computer, smart speaker and/or home monitoring device (such as Nest).
BTW, roughly 7 out of 10 of Americans use their phones while on the toilet. #NoJudgement! In addition, 1 in 10 has a smart speaker in their bathroom (Source.)
Don’t assume your habits mirror those of your audience, even if you’re part of this segment! It’s a rookie mistake that many of my students tend to make.
The content consumption reality:
We live in a multi-device world where we choose to use different connected devices to accomplish different tasks. Further, these devices often have a screen and/or voice functionality.
Translation for marketer:
Deliver your content marketing in a variety of formats across multiple platforms to reach your targeted audience via the device and context of their choice. So they can find your content wherever, whenever and however
To meet your audience’s information needs, understand their content consumption habits. To help you accomplish this, we’ve got you covered with data, definitions and easy-to-implement actionable content marketing tips. to improve results.
What Is Content Consumption?
Content consumption is defined as how your content audience reads, views and/or listens to information and data created by and related to your business and marketing. With ever-increasing devices, platforms and content, understand how your content consumers get the most value out of the content you lovingly create.
To ensure your target audience finds and consumes your content, define it in terms of:
- Format of content. Selected based on combination of user, platform and device preferences. Some platforms and/or devices may be limited in the content formats they can handle.
- Platform where content appears. Since content presentation can vary due to each entity’s rules regarding sizes and format.
- Device used to consume content. Depends on connectivity and context of user. Also sets limitations on formats
Actionable Marketing Tips:
- Ensure your content marketing meets each of your target segments’ consumption needs. Choose content based on their device, platform and format preferences in a given context.
- Add text metadata to aid findability.
What Is US Content Consumption By The Numbers?
Depending on age, location, income and lifestyle, and/or the number of devices you use to consume content, information and/or data on any given day can vary. In cities, people tend to be exposed to more information options via out-of-home technology. It’s placed on streets, in multi-story buildings and public transportation.
Beyond eyes-only content, some information devices offer either audio or voice content.
Depending on the device, users can interact with the content delivered to them by viewing it, listening to it, swiping it and/or speaking to it.
Changing US Content Consumption By Device (aka: Media Consumption)
Smartphones continue to drive the growth of content consumption over the last decade (2011 -2021). It’s important to note that not all of this content consumption has marketing implications.
Overall media consumption among US adults was estimated to be about 666 minutes per day or roughly 11 hours in 2021. (Source: Visual Capitalist 2021)
What’s missing from this Media Consumption Chart?
Content consumption using newer devices including smart assistants, hearables and gaming devices.
US Consumer Attention Clock
On average US adults 18+ spend 13 hours 11 minutes with media per day. This number of hours exceeds a 24 hour day due to multi-tasking with the help of technology. (Source: Activate 2022) Of this:
- 5 hours 28 minutes spent with video across devices; a closer look reveals a move away from traditional television towards streaming and other forms of video.
- 2 hours 42 minutes spent with audio including radio, voice and other devices.
- 1 hour 29 minutes spent communicating via social media and messaging platforms.
While connected consumption has increased over time, multi-tasking activity:
- Has an upper bound,
- Reduces human efficiency. and
- Decreases long-term memorability and mastery of the information.
What Are The 5 Types of Content Consumption? [Infographic]
Over time, with more and different devices and platforms, content consumption has evolved into 5 distinct types.
Each content consumption type depends on the person’s context, the platform chosen and the devise(s) used. Also, the amount of time needed to consume the information and time sensitivity matter. So offer different options to meet your audience’s contextual needs.
1. Focused Content Consumption
Focused content consumption is when you concentrate all of your attention on one form of content from one device at a time. For example, when you read a book or white paper.
- Allow user to consume content via different devices based on findability and consumption context.
- Enable user to download content to their device for portability.
- Allow readers to highlight and take notes on the document.
- Encourage users to share and/or review your content.
2. Multi-input Content Consumption (Often referred to as Dual Consumption)
Multi-input consumption occurs when the reader uses 2 or more devices at the same time to consume content. This allows users to multitask. In the process, user focus and comprehension decrease.
Dual content consumption isn’t new. For example, people have listened to the radio or television while doing something else as their main activity.
Multi-input content consumption allows for engagement with the same or different content via different platforms or devices For example, commenting on social media while watching a television show or attending a live event.
- Expand your potential audience by reaching people while they’re doing something else, such as driving.
- Improve user understanding with different content formats options.
- Provide ability for users to engage with you via chat or human.
3. Information Snacking Consumption (Also referred to as Snackable Content)
Information snacking consumption allows your audience to multi-task with what they consider time-filler content. It helps your audience feel more efficient by taking advantage of otherwise wasted time to catch up on the latest information.
Most commonly, this behavior takes place while waiting to do something else. Since these consumers aren’t really concentrating, make your content attractive and easy to consume.
Information snacking often includes checking email, social media and other content on a work or personal device.
- Make your content attention grabbing and skimmable.
- Add functionality to get your audience to return to get more information.
4. Content Binging
Content binging consists of consuming multiple portions of content in a single session. It evolved from the ability to watch an entire season of a television show in a one or more sittings via paid streaming services.
The key to content binging success:
Your content’s ability to hook your audience to keep them wanting more often due to high quality content and cliffhangers at the end of each episode.
- Create must-consume quality content to engage audience.
- Include a Table of Contents so audience can find information they need.
- Allow your audience to jump to the sections they want to consume.
5. Time Shifted Content
Time Shifted Content allows your audience to save content for future consumption.
This behavior has diminished the value of “appointment media” where content must be consumed at a specific time and potentially at a specific location.
The key to time shifted content success:
To build a content consumption habit by producing content on a regular basis.
- Re-promote your content at least once. For example, I re-mail the AMG Newsletter to un-opens a few days later to increase open rates.
- Ask your audience to share the content.
What Are 5 Marketing Tactics To Improve Content Consumption?
To reach the maximum potential audience for your content marketing, use these 5 actionable tactics.
By allowing your audience to choose how, when and where they decide to read, watch or listen to your content, you succeed.
1. Convert information into different content formats
Expand your potential audience by offering multiple content formats across different platforms to be used on a variety of devices. As a result, people consume your content the way they choose to do so.
The 5 common content formats:
- Text Is often the easiest content to create.
- Visuals Include photographs, gifs, images, charts and infographics to explain your ideas. At a minimum, augment your text with images to increase comprehension.
- Video combines streaming visual with audio. To get audio only, just strip out the images. It can be live-streamed or prerecorded. Also, post across various social media options including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
- Audio/Voice. Allows listeners to hear your content. It can involve one or more people. It remains a constant of commuters’ content consumption whether radio or podcasts.
- Live/Webinar/Video Stream. Enables your audience to hear and view your content presentation.
2. Distribute across multiple platforms at the same time
Give your audience a variety of options for discovering and receiving your content, information and data. Distribute content across a variety of online and offline platforms. Where appropriate use both free and paid options.
With increased use of voice-enabled devices and their different operating systems such as Alexa, Google and Siri, distribute new and existing content across all platforms at the same time to increase listenership. This is a key change in content marketing distribution!
When publishing new content, maximize content amplification during the first 3 days after publication and continue distributing it as long as it remains relevant.
- Owned media including website, blog and email.
- Social media including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Also include LinkedIn Publishing and Medium depending on your business focus.
- Third party media including amplification sites (like Inbound.org and Reddit), top blogs, and stand alone media entities. Where relevant include press releases.
3. Optimize content by type, platform and device to increase findability
Allow your audience to discover your content in multiple ways. Offer prospects multiple ways to communicate with you. Include physical address, phone number, text message, reservation sites, and online chat.
- Search engines. Include more than Google and Bing. Over 40% of shoppers start on Amazon.
- Mobile search. May not be the same as desktop search options.
- Rating and review sites (such as Yelp and TripAdvisor). Can be where your audience turns for pre-purchase input especially when they’re on-the-road.
- Voice search. Be findable by a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service such as Siri, Alexa or Google Home.
- Image search. Continues to improve.
4. Optimize content for improved consumption
Present your content to facilitate different types of consumption based on the type of content.
- Make content easy-to-scan. No one reads dense text. Use bolding, outlining, simple language and images. Include a clickable Table of Contents near the top so your audience can skip to the sections they want.
- Allow users to time shift consumption. Where possible, facilitate later consumption via different devices and apps.
- Encourage users to share your content.
- Curate related content to keep users consuming. Ideally do this via human versus machine curation.
5. Use connected content to maximize visitor email capture.
Since it’s expensive and competitive to attract prospects and leads, use every opportunity to capture email addresses. Don’t bombard them with promotions. Instead, build relationships over time. Remember your house email file is a corporate asset.
The 5 types of connected content are:
- Contact Us. Answer questions and close sales.
- About Us. Gives your business a human face.
- Landing Pages. Offer a reason to capture information. Can be tailored to specific needs.
- Thank You Pages. Show the visitor that their information was submitted. Also provide gated content and upsells.
- Welcome Series. Help deepen your relationshi
Content Consumption Conclusion
Your audience chooses how to consume content, information and data based on their physical context and available device.
In today’s over-saturated media environment, create content to meet your audience’s needs and wants. To succeed, offer the content format that allows them to it consume in the way they choose via their choice of device.
Since they’ll only focus on your content when they can find time to consume while maximizing their efficiency to accomplish the most they can during their waking hours.
So transform and distribute content across formats, platforms and devices to enable readers to consume your information when, where and how they wish.
Otherwise, they’ll move on to what they consider to be better and more accessible content to achieve their goals and fulfill their needs. This leaves your content unread without attracting an audience.
Instead adapt your content to be the best option for them!
Actionable Marketing Guide
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 29, 2012. It was extensively updated on November 16, 2017, July 8, 2021 and August 21, 2022.
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