IPA Touchpoints was created in 2005 as an industry tool to give marketers insight into the daily habits and media moments of target audiences, as well as help planning and measuring the scale of ad campaigns.

Whilst the media landscape has changed fundamentally since that launch, the latest white paper from the IPA, Making sense: The Commercial Media Landscape, suggests that in the marketing world, we may be inflating these changes beyond the true effect on the daily lives of consumers.

Pulling an average day time diary from both 2005 and 2019, the pattern around broad media formats of video, audio, text and OOH take the same shape, highlighting how consistent media consumption has been for the last 15 years.

How people access various media may be changing but the same need states remain; people must travel to work in the day (OOH) and crave some form of downtime before bed (video).

The only format which looks to have altered slightly is audio, peaking higher throughout the day due to the increase in on the go availability via digital access. Unsurprisingly, the impact of digital was a running theme throughout the presentation.

In just 4 years the shift towards ‘digital’ platforms has been phenomenal. In 2015, there was a minority 42% digital share of commercial media amongst all adults, whilst in 2019 this percentage had moved to a 50/50 even split. For a 16-34 audience the shift is even more stark, moving from a 59% digital share to 73% in the same time period. Older audiences are going digital, just at a slower rate.

The disparity between Gen Z & Millennials vs a wider all adult population is becoming more and more pronounced when it comes to media consumption. Never before has the commercial time share between younger and older groups been so dissimilar; there was a 58% correlation in all media consumption in 2015 but only 25% correlation in 2019. Grabbing attention with broadcast media that speaks to both groups has never been so difficult.

Lastly, the IPA report discussed that not all impacts are equal and this is another factor we must take into account when planning our ad campaigns. Whilst measuring reach and frequency remains the cornerstone of media planning (one of the core roles of touchpoints) influential reach is what we should really be considering. The impact of a beautifully shot 60” ad in an immersive cinema environment is not equal to a digital display format in 50% view for 1”. Both have key roles in a media plan but we need to be mindful of the true meaning of impact, reach and frequency when planning and measuring our campaigns.