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Sample of one

Taking to Bafta's stage at the launch of IPA TouchPoints 2016 data, Newsworks' insight director presented the findings of 'Sample of one', exploring how the media habits of London-based planners differ from the rest of the country.  

"We're not all like John Malkovich" explained Denise, standing in front of the iconic film poster. "We're atypical" but also "tend to be friends with people just like us" she told delegates at Thursday morning's event, going on to say that this can lead to a belief that we’re representative of our counterparts around the country. "There's a lot of pressure to go with the new and shiny" when planning ad campaigns, said Denise, but what are real people doing?

To explore this Newsworks embarked on an experiment, asking 30 media agency planners – mainly 23 to 27 year olds, plus four agency leaders – to keep a TouchPoints diary for a week in July. The results, which are compared to TouchPoints 2016 data for the corresponding age groups around the country, show that planners are not necessarily representative of the audiences they're trying to reach.

In the case of the media agency leaders, MEC's Tom George, MediaCom's Luke Bozeat, Havas Media's Natasha Murray and All Response Media's CJ Court spend less time consuming newsbrands, TV and radio than people of the same age around the country (see infographic).

When it comes to print newsbrands, our media agency leaders spent 80% of their time with just five titles, while a further four made up the remaining 20%. They had an even smaller repertoire with digital newsbrands, accessing just four titles online across the week - the Guardian, The Independent, FT and The Observer. By comparison, adults aged 40-55 not living in London read 11 titles online.

The findings were similar for the young agency planners, who read just four newsbrand titles in print during the week, compared with 13 for their age range outside of London. In a similar vein, young planners watched live TV, but for much less time than their counterparts (1.8 hours vs 2.9 hours a day), while Netflix made up 30% of their viewing, compared with 10% for their age group in the rest of the country.

Turning her attention to digital devices, Denise explained that "we are slaves to emails… in both cases the groups are spending a lot more time emailing than their counterparts around the country". However, it's not just emails occupying the participants, with half playing Pokémon GO during the week they were monitored, logging in an average of 50 times in seven days.

Describing the project as a "experiment" as opposed to a research study, due to the size of the sample, Denise said that the findings act as a "wake-up call" that "we shouldn’t assume everyone is like us", while highlighting the value of TouchPoints in allowing us to "understand the daily lives of those different audiences".

More insights from 'Sample of one', particularly focusing on the younger participants, will be presented at Shift North on 12 October. Find out more and register to attend here.

If you'd like to know more about the research, please get in touch

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