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Digital Devices Drive Multitasking and Multiscreen Advertising Opportunities, According to Two New Studies from IAB

63% of Media-Savvy Consumers Use a Connected Device While Watching Live TV &
66% Do the Same When Watching Recorded Programming on DVRs

NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2012) — Connected devices are proliferating like never before, and consumers are adopting multitasking behavior in increasing numbers. These trends are the focus of two unique and timely studies – “Screens to the nth” and “The Multiscreen Marketer” – released today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau at the IAB Innovation Days @ Internet Week “Screens(n)” conference in New York.

“Screens to the nth,” developed in partnership with Ipsos MediaCT, leverages a combination of sources including HearWatchSay, an online research community of 5000 media-savvy individuals. The study explores different types of simultaneous viewing and the key drivers of those behaviors, showing that multitasking is a popular activity while consumers are watching live TV, with 63 percent of respondents reporting that they used a connected device for at least a few minutes the last time they watched live TV. Fifteen percent used more than one device.

The survey showed comparable usage figures for DVR watching respondents (66%), though these consumers were much more likely to be using more than one connected device (23%) in comparison to live TV viewers.

The study also takes a deep dive into the drivers behind the growth in multitasking, revealing that both device proliferation and program content spur media-savvy consumers to search, discuss, share and discover digitally. Across all online activities – such as discussions with friends, social networking, or viewing blogs – smartphones were the multitasking device of choice when interacting about a TV show:

  • Smartphone (45%)
  • Tablet (30%)
  • Computer (21%)

Overall, more multiscreen viewers who are watching television perform activities on their devices that are not related to TV content. The unrelated activities center around communication (email, social networking, texting) and general surfing, while a substantial number also shop and do online banking and about one-third play social/casual games across all three devices. This is particularly noticeable among multitasking viewers who simultaneously use computers (93%), followed by tablet multitaskers (88%) and smartphone multitaskers (83%).

However, a substantial number of multiscreen viewers are focused on TV content related activities: 41 percent of computer multitaskers, 46 percent of tablet multitaskers and 60 percent of smartphone multitaskers.

Findings also reveal that multiscreen viewers are more likely to use their smartphone than tablet or laptop to discuss TV commercials on social networks, blogs, and forums or over text/email/IM:

  • Smartphones (37%)
  • Computers (18%)
  • Tablets (16%)

“Understanding how and why consumers view multiscreens opens the door to the future of advertising and content creation,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics & Measurement, IAB. “As devices proliferate and the lines between content and advertising blur, more opportunities to reach consumers in relevant and compelling ways will emerge.”

The Multiscreen Marketer

“The Multiscreen Marketer,” a separate study commissioned from Econsultancy by the IAB iTV Committee and IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence further explores both the challenges and the opportunities that marketers, agencies, and publishers face in an increasingly complex multidevice, multiplatform consumer environment.

While “Screens to the nth” reviews the different types of simultaneous viewing and the key drivers of those behaviors, “The Multiscreen Marketer” reveals deeper modern viewing habits for the true multidevice user among those with two screens (TV, computer), three screens (TV, computer, smartphone), and four screens (TV, computer, smartphone, tablet) and what motivates multiscreen behavior among the users of these devices and TVs.

The survey found that for two-screen users (TV, computer) habits involved with watching TV look very much as they did in the 1960s, dominated by eating, drinking, and spending time with family. But, with every additional screen owned by consumers, the desire for TV-time to be amplified by a digital experience expands vastly:

  • 65% of “four-screeners” were likely to use a connected device while watching television
  • 60% of “three-screeners” were likely to do so
  • 52% of “two-screeners” did the same

Looking to the future, younger “four-screeners” are even more likely to be multitasking; 77 percent of those 18 – 44 years old say they’re likely or very likely to be using a second device while watching TV.

In addition, findings indicate that contrary to assumptions, advertiser recall is actually higher among “four-screener” respondents. When asked to associate up to three advertisers with favorite programs, “four-screeners” are the most likely to be able to do so:

  • “Four-screeners” (53%)
  • “Three-screeners” (46%)
  • “Two-screeners” (42%)


“Screens to the nth”
The study is based on data collected and analyzed by Ipsos MediaCT in partnership with the IAB. The study used a combination of sources including LMX, a single-source, two-wave media diary of 7500 consumers examining device ownership and when, where, and how new and traditional media is consumed, along with HearWatchSay, Ipsos and IAB’s online community of 5000 media-savvy individuals.

“The Multiscreen Marketer”
The survey was conducted by Econsultancy on behalf of the IAB. It was fielded online on April 19, 2012 to a Survey Sampling panel comprised of U.S. consumers ages 18 and over. Tablet owners were over-sampled to ensure sufficient data for that audience. The survey closed on April 25, 2012 with 1,851 qualified responses.

About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]

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