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Study: Ad Buyers Perceive Their Media Habits Same as Average Consumers’

Media agency executives and marketers underestimate how much time Americans spend watching TV because their own media habits are different, according to a new study by the Video Advertising Bureau.

That might lead them to allocate ad dollars based on their own experience, which could cost the TV industry, the VAB said.

Media buyers skew male, and trend younger, more affluent, urban, career-oriented and tech-centric than the general population, the survey found. They also spend more time on the Internet and emerging platforms.

“The advertising business is running so fast to keep up with digital platforms that we’re outpacing the market, and creating an echo chamber that warps our perspective on the people we’re trying to reach,” said Danielle DeLauro, VAB senior vice president for strategic sales insights.

“Go to any advertising conference today, and you hear about what’s next at the expense of what’s now, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that no one is watching live TV and everyone is on social media all day," DeLauro added. "The problem with this myopic focus on what’s new and next is that marketers need to sell products today, and that requires a precise understanding of how people are actually using media now.”

Advertising professionals watch TV an average of less than two hours a day but think they watch as much TV as the average American. In fact, the average American adult averages more than 4½ hours of TV per day.

VAB compared syndicated data on America’s media habits with the results of a custom study it commissioned by Research Now. From Feb. 6-16, 250 advertising executives — 71% agencies and 29% advertisers, with agency people evenly split between traditional and digital media buyers — were asked about their job, lifestyle and media habits along with their perceptions of how the American public compares.

Average adults also spend half the time advertising people think they spend watching video on a computer and a seventh of the time estimated watching on a mobile device. The survey found 61% of ad people watch 30 minutes or more per day on the computer, and 70% think the public does too. According to research, Americans average just 12 minutes per day. A majority of ad people watch 30 minutes a day on mobile, and 73% think the public does as well, but Americans average only 4 minutes per day of mobile video viewing.


Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.