Mapping the media journey

The emergence of new media channels means comms planning has never been more challenging. Thankfully, the IPA's TouchPoints3 data can help, Steve Williams, Belinda Beeftink and Lynne Robinson say.

Understanding how consumers interact with all media, and how media fits into the context of their daily lives, has never been more critical in gaining a business advantage through communications planning.

The launch of TouchPoints3 data provides us with a tremendous leap forward. It provides the continuation of a proven data set approach, is updated for key digital platforms and includes new data for "word-of-mouth". It accounts for new and emerging channels while at the same time proves their impact on "traditional media" as they increasingly move to a digital delivery platform.

Strategists face an increasingly complex task in constructing communication plans. The expansion in choice has had a major impact on how media is planned, bought and sold. The average communications plan now involves in excess of six media channels, often many more. This has resulted in both agencies and media owners reforming their internal structures to provide fully integrated solutions.

It is, therefore, very timely that the IPA is publishing its third TouchPoints survey. Designed and managed by the IPA's Media Futures Group, TouchPoints3 consists of two databases. The first, the Hub Survey, is a time series data set that looks at what consumers are doing throughout their day, on a half-hourly basis. The second database is the Channel Planner, which uses the Hub Survey for merging all the media industry measurement currencies, ie. Barb, NRS, JICREG, Rajar, Postar, Fame, TGI and, new this year, UKOM and GSMA. It allows users to calculate true coverage and frequency for multi-media campaigns, evaluating within each component medium, as well as delivering cumulative and incremental evaluation, ensuring that the most effective campaign is constructed.

TouchPoints3 has been refreshed and updated to reflect the evolving communications and technology environment. The significant new addition is the word-of-mouth metric, which has been developed in conjunction with Keller Fay, the leading word-of-mouth expert in the US. This will not only identify who the key word-of-mouth "Conversation Catalysts" are, but also allow users to craft plans to deliver the maximum word-of-mouth or "earned media" follow-up.

The digital component has been totally updated to reflect the tremendous growth in this area. In particular, mobile internet users can be identified and tracked, as can video-on-demand users. The social networking section has been expanded to allow the analysis of the different types of social engagement and the use of social media, including how it relates to daily life and the use of other media. Finally, there are new sections on gaming and downloading films, plus new attitude statements, relating to social attitudes and the impact of the recession.

TouchPoints is fast becoming the key data source that adland cannot do without. More than 60 companies currently subscribe to the data; these comprise agencies of all types, media owners and one advertiser, COI, which has made the use of TouchPoints mandatory in all of its multimedia planning. The survey has also been emulated in many leading advertising markets around the world - for example, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark. The US is of particular note as it is piloting a TouchPoints survey this summer in association with the IPA. Given the demand for this data, the IPA is planning to produce TouchPoints on an annual basis from 2011.

The power of context

The importance of the context in which a piece of communication occurs has long been recognised. From a communication planning perspective, context can be broadly defined in two ways: first, the editorial environment in which an ad appears; and second, the set of circumstances that surround a consumer when the ad is delivered.

The first of these has historically been much researched and discussed. However, until TouchPoints, the second context, the consumer's, could not be fully and easily explored. By half-hour, IPA TouchPoints is able to capture the pattern and context of consumers' daily lives and the role that media and communication can play in them. It allows planners to understand and optimise the content and delivery of communication based on factors such as: where the consumer is, who they are with, what they are doing, which mode they are in and how they are feeling. Are they at home, at work, shopping? Are they in a good mood? Are they by themselves, with family, with colleagues, with friends? Are they working, relaxing, doing housework or in the car? Each of these clearly plays a part in not just which mix of channels are selected and the resulting levels of weight/investment needed, but can also shape the tone, content and impact of any communications (Chart 1).

Many existing TouchPoints subscribers have already identified the value to their client's brands of harnessing this understanding. For Citroen, OMD used TouchPoints to identify its fleet user/chooser's mode and mood and identified apertures for product-led, functional messaging and opportunities for emotional, brand-led messaging. Mediaedge:cia, for the Department of Health Stroke campaign, used TouchPoints to understand the daily behaviour of not just those who were at risk of a stroke in order to emphasise the "act fast" message, but who they were with, as these people were potential "stroke savers".

TouchPoints3 gives us the opportunity to see how other important contextual factors have developed since TouchPoints1 and 2. It demonstrates how hectic people's lives have become, with 37 per cent of adults doing more than five activities in the same half-hour (up from 29 per cent in TouchPoints2). Women are clocking up more active hours than men, with some obvious regional differences - Londoners are the least likely to exercise and the most likely to work; Wales uses the most childcare and Scotland does the most shopping. Whatever people are doing, wherever they are, whoever they are with and whatever mood they are in, TouchPoints can help planners optimise the communication opportunity.

Overall media trends

Despite the tremendous changes in both the media landscape and the underlying economic environment between TouchPoints2 (2008) and TouchPoints3 (2010), only minor changes in the levels of television viewing, radio listening and reading have been recorded between the two surveys. Any marginal declines in consuming each medium through traditional means have been more than compensated for by the growth in their consumption through their digital platforms. The only medium to record a significant increase in audience is online, with hours spent using the internet on an average day up from 1.3 to 1.8 hours - a 38 per cent increase.

Given the growth in time spent consuming virtually all media, the number of adults using more than one medium in any half-hourly period has risen from 74 per cent to 75 per cent; for 15- to 24-year-olds, the growth has been from 75 per cent to 78 per cent. Chart 2 outlines media use throughout the day. TV continues to be dominant in the evening; radio is strongest in the morning; out-of-home is stronger during the day; and despite their publishing times, newspapers are consumed throughout the whole day, as are magazines and the internet.

Chart 3 looks at the relative size of each medium. TV remains the dominant medium for all adults in terms of both reach and average hours consumed, followed by out-of-home, radio and then the internet. About the same number of adults use a mobile phone as read a newspaper each day and for a similar amount of time; while just less than 40 per cent of adults indulge in social networking each day for about an hour. Watching TV online and watching video online is done by just less than 20 per cent of adults for about a quarter-of-an-hour a day.

This picture changes quite markedly for 15-24s (Chart 4). TV is still the largest medium but internet use is a close second with out-of-home third. The amount of time spent social networking also jumps, with more than 80 per cent of 15-24s spending about an hour-and-a-quarter a day online. There are similar comparative increases in the number and amount of time 15-24s spend talking on a mobile phone, watching video online and watching TV online, while the time spent reading newspapers and magazines falls in comparison to all adults.

Digital trends

Seventy-four per cent of all adults claim to have used the internet in a week, compared with 53 per cent in TouchPoints2, while the amount of time spent using the internet has shown a significant 38 per cent increase in the same period. This growth has occurred throughout the day but is relatively greater in the evening (Chart 5, overleaf).

Looking at where in the home users access the internet, the most popular location is the living room, with 35 per cent of all adults claiming they mainly access the internet from there. However, with the notable exception of the study/office, claimed access from all rooms in the home has increased between TouchPoints2 and TouchPoints3 - no doubt due to the rapid growth in the ownership of laptops and mobile devices.

On an average day, e-mailing is the dominant internet activity, accounting for a 20 per cent share of all internet activity (Chart 6). The next largest activity is using the internet for work, taking a 16 per cent share. Both activities have shown substantial growth in overall time use between TouchPoints2 and 3 - increases of 16 per cent and 52 per cent respectively. However, due to the even more rapid growths in other activities, they have lost overall share. The time spent social networking has risen by 113 per cent. Albeit still at relatively low levels, the time spent consuming media online has also grown substantially; listening to radio/podcasts is up by 166 per cent, looking at newspaper websites by 61 per cent and watching online TV by 216 per cent; while the more mundane buying products and services online and buying groceries online have only shown more modest increases of 10 per cent and 3 per cent.

Usage of the internet in general has a slight male bias and is more heavily biased towards ABC1s and under-54s. It also has a quite marked regional bias towards London and the South-East, with the rest of the country being much lighter internet users of all types.

The incidence of using the internet and watching the TV at the same time is highest between 7pm and 9pm.

Social networking

Harnessing the power of social media is at the top of most agencies' agendas. The medium has gone from barely existing, beyond a few specialist websites in TouchPoints1, to a fully fledged medium in TouchPoints3.

Thirty-seven per cent of adults claim to social network each week - as we know, this group is heavily biased towards 15- to 34-year-olds, particularly 15-24s and those either studying or working full time, and also has a slight female and ABC1 bias. The incidence of social networking also has a strong regional bias towards London and the South-East; with the exception of the North-West, the rest of the country are much lighter social networkers.

Social networking takes place throughout the whole day but peak time for people to social network is between 6.30pm and 10pm, when 3 to 3.5 per cent of adults claim to be active. About a third of these also claim to be watching the TV at the same time (Chart 7). Only a relatively low level of people claim to be social networking at work and this peaks over lunchtime.

As would be expected from their demographic profile, social networkers tend to be lighter users of broadcast TV, radio, newspapers and magazines but heavier users of the internet and mobile phones and spend an above average time out of home. They spend less than average time socialising in person, but have above average indices for relaxing and doing nothing in particular.

Mobile phones, VoD, gaming

Ninety-five per cent of people claimed to have at least one mobile phone, compared with 92 per cent in 2008. Virtually everyone uses their mobile phones for standard calls and text messaging on a regular weekly basis; however, there is growing usage of the ever-widening number of features/services available via a mobile phone and, as ever, 15-24s are the heaviest users.

On a weekly basis, 16 per cent of all adults and 34 per cent of 15-24s use their mobile phones to access the internet; for playing games, the respective figures are 13 per cent and 25 per cent; for sending and receiving e-mails, it is 11 per cent and 18 per cent; for accessing social networking sites, it is 12 per cent and 31 per cent; for watching TV programmes, it is 1 per cent and 2 per cent; and for watching films, it is 1 per cent and 2 per cent.

Just over half of all adults say they watch TV-on-demand - this breaks down to 31 per cent via their TV sets, 38 per cent via the internet and 16 per cent via both. The VoD audience is biased towards 15- to 44-year-olds, particularly 15-24s, with a slight male and upmarket bias. Like usage of the internet and social networking, VoD use is regionally biased towards London and the South-East, with only the North-West and Central Scotland recording above average use in the rest of the country. The most frequently used VoD services via the TV set are, in order, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Virgin On Demand, 4oD and Sky Anytime. The most frequently used VoD services accessed via the internet are, in order, BBC iPlayer and YouTube.

Gaming has established itself as a major activity in the UK, with two in five people gaming at least once a week and one in ten gaming daily. Forty-three per cent of gamers play alone each week; 12 per cent play with family and 12 per cent play with friends at home. Thirty-nine per cent use their console for connecting to the internet and 15 per cent play games with other online users on a weekly basis.

Gamers tend to be men, C2DEs and under-35s - this is even more pronounced for daily gamers. In terms of regionality, there is a distinct bias towards the more northern areas of the North-East, North-West and Yorkshire. They are heavily biased towards still being in education and, as such, are above average users of mobile phones.


Word-of-mouth is probably the oldest of all communication channels and is also considered one of the most effective. The growing recognition of the power of "earned" media is leading to a need for better data on word-of-mouth; therefore, the IPA has teamed up with Keller Fay to include a word-of-mouth metric in TouchPoints3.

The core of this is the identification of Conversation Catalysts ie. the key word-of-mouth communicators for each of 21 product categories.

Word-of-mouth tends to be identified very closely with online; however, Keller Fay found only 6 per cent of word-of-mouth is generated by online, the remainder being offline and about half of the buzz around any brand coming from advertising and marketing.

The demographic composition of each group of Conversation Catalysts varies by their product type. However, of the core group of people who are Conversation Catalysts of any of the 21 product categories covered, on average they are Conversation Catalysts for three different categories.

Bearing out the findings from the US, core Conversation Catalysts appear to be far more receptive to advertising and are 30 per cent more likely to agree to statements like: "I often talk about ads with friends and colleagues." They are also significantly above average social networkers.

The TouchPoints database allows us to cross-analyse the different types of Conversation Catalysts with their media consumption and therefore identify which communication channels are most efficient at reaching the various word-of-mouth groups. Chart 8 identifies the most efficient national newspaper titles for reaching the different types of Conversation Catalysts.

- Steve Williams is the chairman of the IPA Media Futures Group and chief executive of OMD, Lynne Robinson is the IPA research director and Belinda Beeftink is the IPA associate director.

Food and drink The Independent
Sports and hobbies Daily Sport
Entertainment and media The Observer
Holidays and travel Sunday Express
Mobile phone Sunday Sport
Computer/computer software Financial Times
TV, DVD, and audio equipment The Sun
Clothes and accessories The Observer
Beauty and grooming products The People
Health products The Mail on Sunday
Home appliance Daily Star Sunday
Home decoration/DIY The Independent
Cars The Independent
Financial services The Sunday Telegraph
Shops and shopping centres Daily Star Sunday
Children's products The Observer
Everyday household products The People
Gardening The Sunday Telegraph
Jobs and career The Independent
The environment The Guardian
Public affairs/politics The Guardian
Source: IPA TouchPoints3.


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