Consumers using more media, new and old, study says

Oct 17, 2008
Consumers using more media, new and old, study says
Jay Newell, an ISU mass media professor in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, found in a new study that people haven't stopped using their old forms of media in favor of new. Photo by Bob Elbert

(PhysOrg.com) -- Reports of traditional media's demise -- in favor of newer, high-tech forms -- have been greatly exaggerated. That's according to a four-year study led by an Iowa State University mass media professor, who found large gains in the use of new media (like the Internet and e-mail), but also a slight increase in the use of traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television). The result? Overall media saturation.

"The way media saturation works is that people don't actually drop their old habits -- or if they do, they do very slowly over a long period of time -- but they create new habits very quickly," said Jay Newell, an assistant professor in ISU's Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and lead author of the study.

Newell joined prominent media researcher Joseph Pilotta, vice president of research for the consumer intelligence firm BIGresearch and a former communication professor for The Ohio State University; and John Thomas, a graduate student in ISU's Greenlee School, on the study. They analyzed data collected in a four-year (2003-06) biannual online media consumption survey of between 12,000 and 15,000 people, conducted by BIGresearch. Their results are summarized in a paper titled "Mass Media Displacement and Saturation," which will be published in an upcoming issue of the International Journal on Media Management.

The study identified these significant trends:

-- The overall consumption of advertiser-supported mass media increased over the four-year period, although the magnitude of that change tended to be small

-- Increased use of new media occurred at a more rapid pace than decreases in the use of traditional media.

-- Traditional media maintained or increased usage during key revenue-making dayparts, such as morning drive for broadcast radio and prime time for television.

The research contradicts reports about the sharp decline in newspaper readership, finding that newspapers showed significant readership increases in four dayparts (6-10 a.m., 10 a.m.-noon, 7:30-11 p.m. and 11 p.m.-1 a.m.), while the other three (noon-4:30 p.m., 4:30-7:30 p.m. and 1-6 a.m.) didn't significantly change.

"Why? It could be that newspaper declines are being overstated," Newell said. "Many of the circulation drops are due to newspapers cutting back on editions that are distributed far from the city and surrounding suburbs. The people who don't get those papers could be reading local papers. Remember, too, that my study looks at newspaper readership, while newspapers report on circulation.

"These numbers showed that the percentage of people who said they typically read a newspaper -- in the times that you'd expect them to be reading a newspaper -- has remained quite stable over the last five years," he said.

The study was also good news for other forms of traditional media. Magazine use increased in all dayparts over the four-year period, while television increased in the afternoon, primetime, late fringe (11 p.m. to 1 a.m.) and overnight. Radio listenership, however, declined in late morning and primetime dayparts, although morning drive (6-10 a.m.) increased and afternoon drive (4:30-7:30 p.m.) showed no statistically significant change.

But Newell says the main point of his study is that new media aren't displacing old.

"The contribution of this particular paper is that it shows these traditional media haven't dropped and ad agencies are starting to pick up on that," Newell said. "Ad agencies are beginning to see that changes in media use aren't as simple as dropping old habits such as reading the newspaper and starting new ones."

The authors wrote that media buyers who forsake traditional media such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines risk losing a substantial portion of potential communication with key audiences, since their data did not indicate losses in consumer usage of incumbent media in their traditional high-use time periods.

Provided by Iowa State University

Explore further: Anti-apartheid hero, ex-Norway PM awarded 'Asian Nobel' prizes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mapping the connections between diverse sets of data

Sep 12, 2014

What is a map? Most often, it's a visual tool used to demonstrate the relationship between multiple places in geographic space. They're useful because you can look at one and very quickly pick up on the general ...

Britons trust Wikipedia 'more than the news'

Aug 10, 2014

British people trust Wikipedia more than the mainstream media, the information site's founder Jimmy Wales said Sunday, at the close of a three-day conference of the Wikimedia movement in London.

Fraud, sex, post-it art: Google cuts search links

Jul 03, 2014

Google's removal of search results in Europe is drawing accusations of press censorship, as stories from some of the continent's most prominent news outlets begin vanishing. The U.S. internet giant said Thursday ...

Recommended for you

Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

20 hours ago

There's some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0