Addressing ‘Channel Promiscuity’

Andrew Kordek

2 minute read

I studied sociology as an undergraduate and then again as a graduate student and I know: Sociologists are fascinated with promiscuity. I don’t believe it is the voyeuristic aspect that draws them to this topic. It’s the challenge. Sociologists can’t get a straight answer if they just ask people about their sexual histories. Their subjects distort the truth to align with what is socially acceptable. And this means sociologists need to get really

This may explain why I latched onto the term “channel promiscuity” when Mike Bloxham, director of insights at the Center for Media Design, used it recently at MediaPost’s Email Insider Summit.

It strikes me as an appropriate term to use when describing the current media landscape for two reasons:

1) It speaks the indiscriminate nature of media consumption. Media consumption is splintering. People can access content via television, on their phones, computers, tablets, or game consoles. They can communicate via phone, text, IM, social networks, email, or Skype. And while there is usually a good reason for using one channel over another (e.g., texting is quick, social networks allow you to update a lot of people at once), Millennials are fairly indiscriminate about which channels they use. Just because they use one channel now doesn’t mean they won’t use another in two minutes or even at the same time.

2) It explains why research can be so disparate. How much television do Millennials watch per week? I’ve seen numbers recently that range anywhere from 11 hours per week to 25 hours per week. Which number you believe is likely to be based on personal biases. If you work for an ad agency that makes commercials, you’ll quote the bigger number. If you are a new media agency, you’ll quote the smaller.

(Side note: The truth is probably closer to the larger number. The higher estimates are based on observational studies like the one shared by Mike Bloxham, while the lower estimates are based on self-reported data. Since people don’t like to think of themselves as couch potatoes; they tend to under-report time spent watching television.)

Of course, there is an actual “truth” about media consumption out there. But I believe it is still a ways off before we have a really good grasp on what percentage of time and attention each channel gets of the proverbial pie. The only thing that seems completely indisputable is that Millennials’ media pie is getting bigger and more complex.

Pew’s recent Generations 2010 report illustrates this phenomenon. In it, it breaks online activities into three categories:

1) Those Millennials (ages 18-33) use more than older adults like social networks, instant messaging, online classifieds, listening to music, online games, reading blogs, and virtual worlds.

Continue Reading on: MediaPost: Engage GenY

Originally from “Addressing ‘Channel Promiscuity'” | Published January 21, 2011

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Kordek

Andrew Kordek is a Co-Founder of Trendline Interactive.

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