Revisiting the media consumption diary

Almost three years ago, I started thinking about a media consumption diary while researching and analyzing advertising trends. When I finally got around to tracking my behavior, I found it difficult to keep track of time even while recording items up to several times a day.

Flash forward to last week, when I was speaking at a conference about social business and the need to compartmentalize data. Today, a site like Daytum provides a tool for tracking consumption with wonderful visuals to help make sense of the information.

The Economist recently posted an insightful piece on how viewers watch television – and how they woefully misremember their time spent doing so. It’s easy and likely correct to assume that the same misattribution occurs in surveys that ask consumers to recall use of other media: mass, digital, and social.

I’ve got a challenge for you – start a media consumption diary and track your usage over a day. If you can keep focused, go for an entire week. I’m certain that what you learn will have interesting implications for how you think about data and consumer behavior going forward…

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  1. I once tried tracking the number of advertising pieces I saw in a day and went batty. By about 3PM I had seen some 515 pieces of communication. I don’t know if the attempt was scientifically right or not. But just going through the process was disorienting and painful. By mid afternoon, my brain was jelly.

  2. I wrote a blog entitled The Dinosaur Research Firm about two weeks ago on exactly the same subject

    As a marketing consultant having done numerous surveys for my customers online, via telephone, focus groups, etc. I am befuddled as to how research firms can claim to accurately assess consumer media habits. There must be a better way, and you seem to be on the right track!

  3. I think the analogous activity is driving a car. We often – dare I say always – miss out on some part of the journey from point A to point B. On a longer trip, the missing pieces are numerous and lengthy. But even on a journey as short as a trip to the store we probably miss seeing the house that’s just past the end of our road, the school on the left that we pass each and every time we drive out of the neighborhood, and maybe even the other cars passing us.

    This observation…or misobservation isn’t to say that we have things in our lives that we can live without noticing. It’s just to underscore how our minds work. Perhaps marketers could learn from our habits and find a way to alert us in more visible and noticeable ways.


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