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WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

How Are Consumers Engaging with Digital Content?

Highlights from 2019 Adobe’s Brand Content Survey, including consumers’ daily digital content usage, usage of multiple devices, and some head-scratching data on their attitudes toward personalization.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: August 28, 2019

In a multichannel marketing environment, it’s important to understand how consumers are engaging with content beyond print. According to Adobe’s 2019 Brand Content Survey, consumers engage with their devices an average of 8.8 hours per day. Among Gen Zs and Millennials, this rises to 11 hours per day. Twenty-eight percent of Millennials, and 14% of consumers overall, use three or more devices at once.

As a PSP, if you aren’t helping your customers engage, not just on mobile devices, but with an integrated brand strategy in a multi-screen world, you are missing a big piece of the puzzle.  

Average Time Consumers Spend per Day Engaging with Digital Content

Overall

8.8 hours

Gen Z

11.4 hours

Millennials

10.9 hours

Gen X

8.9 hours

Baby Boomers

7.5 hours

Traditionalists

7.1 hours

What percentage of consumers say they use multiple devices  “constantly” or “frequently”?

Overall

52%

Gen Z

66%

Millennials

73%

Gen X

53%

Baby Boomers

42%

Traditionalists

32%

These numbers speak loudly. Print is awesome. We all love print. But consumers still live in a digital world. To succeed, printers must understand how print fits into this world and how to break down the silos and bring print into the overall marketing discussion that—like it or not—revolves around digital content.

While marketers tend to focus on influencing pre-sales decisions, the survey finds that the digital world is particularly important for post-sales interactions, too. Customer retention and customer loyalty are post-sale relationships, and those, too, revolve around digital, especially social media. When asked what type of content is the most shared and most trusted (marketing translation: most influential), content from family members, friends, or peers far outdistances the other types of content, with 49% of consumers willing to share and 38% trusting this type of content. (Can you say “UGC marketing,” anyone?) The next most trusted source is “online news,” at a more distant 23% shared and 24% trusted.

Which social media channels do consumers trust most? Facebook (26%), followed by YouTube (16%), LinkedIn (9%), Instagram (8%), Twitter (5%), and Snapchat (3%).  

Here are some highlights from the generational data:

  • GenZ is the only generation to have a high level of trust in Snapchat (22%).
  • More than half of Millennials would share their demographic, personal, behavioral, or geographic information with brands.
  • Men are less likely to share content online and women are less likely to share personal information with brands.

Which types of digital content do consumers consider “important” to them?

Characteristics of Content Important to Consumers

Accurate

32%

Informative

28%

Simple

27%

Entertaining

8%

Interactive

7%

Personalized

6%

Beautifully designed

4%

How about frustrating? Here are the characteristics of digital content that frustrate them:

Characteristics of Content Frustrating to Consumers

Spam email

42%

Slow page load

35%

Irrelevant offers

29%

Too many pages/screens to find

29%

Content not available

27%

Irrelevant recommendations

23%

Cluttered content/design

22%

Crowded navigation panel

13%

What happens when consumers get frustrated with the content they are interacting with? Half or more claim they will bail on the page, and about one-third will switch devices. It’s important to optimize for multiple formats.

Speaking of frustration, how do consumers feel about privacy? If a brand’s handling of their privacy makes them feel comfortable, respondents claim that they will stop purchasing from that brand. Seventy-two percent say they “actively adjust” their privacy settings with brands to protect their information, and 82% say they would stop purchasing from a brand if it crosses the line with a “creepy” personalized experience. This is important because 25% also said that websites they have visited has fallen into this category.

But there are some head scratchers here, too.

Despite the fact that 82% of consumers say they would leave a brand for creeping them out and 25% say websites they have visited have created “creepy” personalized experiences:

  • 62% of respondents claim that they are “aware of all the information and data each brand they interact with gathers” about them; and
  • 52% say they are comfortable with brands using “all of the information they have about them” in their interactions.

Similarly head-scratching, despite the fact that 6% say that personalized content is important to them,

  • 51% say they are more likely to make a purchase if the content is personalized; and
  • 34% say they are more likely to make an unplanned purchase when the content is personalized.
  • There is a big gap between these numbers.

My takeaway? How consumers feel in a survey setting and what they actually do are often quite different. So which data is actually true? Most likely, all of it. Consumers can feel one way at one time, but then turn around and do something completely different. The issues surrounding personalization are complicated, and from a marketing perspective, the implementation is inconsistent.

Consumers are growing more comfortable with how brands use their personalization information, but desensitization is playing a role, too. The only solid takeaway, from my perspective, is that consumers remain torn and fickle. As consumers, we like our privacy. We don’t want anyone in our business, but we like a good deal, too. So true feelings about privacy may be more about how the content is worded, how much they like the product, and how good the deal is. Oh, yes, and what side of bed the consumer woke up on this morning.

For the survey, Adobe interviewed 1,000 consumers interviewed in December 2018. All participants were required to own at least one digital device.

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

 

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