Saturday, September 11, 2010

What do Facebook, Multitasking and Advertising Have in Common?

A recent study of college students in the Netherlands concluded that multitasking while studying will likely reduce a student’s grade by 20%. You know the drill: you’re reading your class notes on the computer and every few minutes you switch over the Facebook to see if anything’s going on. Well, that model of multitasking behavior is also the same process through which we consume other media content, like advertising. In other words, we may watch TV and then turn away to focus on the computer when the commercials come on, or engage in any number of related behaviors. The implications for students' grades are clear. But what are the implications for advertisers? I would suggest to you that similar or worse issues arise when it comes to advertising while multitasking with multiple media, if for no other reason, advertising is not a significant part of our lives, at least not as significant as studying for an exam. My study on the subject, Living in an Age of Distraction, describes how difficult consumers find switching back and forth from one medium to another. And, just like the difficulties encountered by college students who multitask while studying, consumers find it difficult to recall the advertisements they have seen. There’s a lot of research starting to emerge regarding the perils of multitasking. Advertisers are already attempting to circumvent what I think are consumers resistance to their messages. Product embeds, although rarely done well, are one approach. But the cat and mouse game between advertiser and consumer goes on; multitasking is just one tactic employed by consumers to resist the reach of advertising. As for multitasking while studying for an exam, well, that's another story.

1 comment:

Ana said...

As someone not foreign to being on Facebook while studying I can completely relate to changing the channel, checking my email or playing on my phone when my favorite tv show switches to commercials. Right now I could not even tell you the last commercial I watched let alone remember watching. This tells me as a new student of advertising that commercials are not the way to go. In my opinion, advertising needs to be partnered with PR to promote products. The Absolut ads put into the Sex and the City episode that we learned about today or the FedEx promotion in the movie Cast Away are the best way to get products into the consumers' minds. Obviously not every movie will feature products but this idea of product placement, in our cluttered world today, is the best way to promote your product.