What do people do all day…in 2015?

Note: This was written for a corporate blog that is entirely ghostwritten, with the narrator using “we” to indicate a collectivist perspective. Truthfully, all research and writing related to this post was done by myself,  independently. The company utilizes a stable of writers and freelancers to write its blog posts.

We’ve been spending some time examining media trends lately, and last week looked into the world of podcasting, a form of media that–despite the lengthy time commitments its users take to catch up with their favorite pods–is quickly growing in popularity. This leads us to a pretty banal, but worthwhile observation: people spend a lot of time consuming media. What else do people do all day?

Not to knock on Richard Scarry’s seminal work, but maybe we need to do a little updating. It’s likely that people these days spend less time at the butcher shop and more time at a supermarket, for example (or maybe they’re just pressing little buttons scattered around the domicile and waiting for toilet paper to appear at the front door).

Regardless, knowing a little bit more about how we spend time now (as opposed to, say, in 1999) will help us identify which forms of media and concomitant forms of advertising are likely to become more or less valuable in the near future, which forms of marketing might give us a greater bang for our buck. Here’s what we were able to find:

Work Dominates (sort of)

The average working person spends about 8.8 hours per day on work and related activities. This may seem like a lot, but compared to figures from 150 years ago, when Americans averaged 70 hour work weeks, and we certainly seem like a much more efficient bunch.

However, we must keep in mind that not everybody works. In fact, year to year, around 50% of all people are not of working age, being either under 18 years old or over 65. So, for about half of all humans, a formalized work experience does not come into play on a daily basis. There is one thing that most of us, however, do spend a lot of time doing.

Watching Television

One thing that struck us when researching this blog post was the sheer amount of time that the average person still watches television. By most accounting, TV is far and away the most consumed form of media by time commitment.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, The average American over the age of 15 spends 2.8 hours per day watching TV, while only spending about 45 minutes per day socializing. Figures from Europe indicate that people average about 4 hours a day watching TV, totaling 28 hours a week. Other numbers indicate even higher amounts of TV watching, such as emarketer.com’s tally of 4 hours and 28 minutes per day.

It’s no wonder that TV advertising spending is still king, and these numbers put in perspective projections that predict digital advertising will overtake TV spending soon. Maybe media buyers are jumping the gun by spending more and more on the Internet.

Internet usage

We know that people are spending more of their internet time using mobile apps than in the past, which account for about 52% of our overall internet-connected time. Emarketer.com claims that people spend an average of 2 hours and 51 minutes on their mobile devices per day.

Online time on a computer, according to that same study, accounts for 2 hours and 12 minutes daily. How can we break down overall time spent using the web on our computer?

According to an online survey conducted by Gfk and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, time spent on the web is tilted towards communicative efforts: social networking and emails being the two largest time-consumers. The third largest category is watching digital video, which accounts for an average of 23 minutes per day. Only about 5 minutes per day are devoted, on average, to reading online magazines.

The Media Age

There’s no doubt that the vast majority of a working person’s leisure time is spent consuming media, sometimes even multiple forms at once (listening to music while surfing the web while sitting in front of the TV is not uncommon, for example). Add an additional 26 minutes per day on physical print media, and an and hour and 20 minutes for radio, and our media connected time totals to about 12 hours per day.

It’s funny then that, according to the BLS, Americans only spend about 45 minutes daily making decisions related to the purchasing of goods and services.

To put that in perspective, we spend 12 hours a day consuming media supported by advertising that is created to influence what we do with those crucial 45 minutes.