Last month, the US magazine Advertising Age put the evolving impact of the
Internet in dramatic terms when it said that Yahoo and Google's
total ad revenues this year could rival the combined prime-time ad revenues of
ABC, CBS, and NBC -- a stunning achievement for the companies and a watershed
moment for the Internet as an advertising medium.
A US Government Study of a Day in the Life of America - summary from
The average American sleeps 8.6
hours. Workers spend a third of the day on the job. The No. 3 activity, after
sleep and work, is watching TV.
Consumers spend half their leisure
time -- and effectively 11% of their lives -- in front of the tube. That’s
strong evidence of the commanding role TV plays in the lives of consumers even
as the ad industry debates the future of the 30-second spot and the issue of
slipping broadcast ratings.
Time Use Survey
come from the American Time Use Survey, the government’s first comprehensive
time study. The survey, offering detailed data on how different demographic
groups spend their days, puts hard numbers behind common assumptions. Women
spend four times as much time on housework (an hour a day) as men do. Employed
men on average put in an hour more at work (eight hours) than employed women
Adults in households without
children have more leisure time (5.6 hours) than homes with children (4.2
hours). One not-so-shocking finding: Working mothers with young children have
the least leisure time of any adults (a bit more than three hours).
“A lot of the data weren’t
surprising,” said Diane Herz, a division chief at the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the survey’s sponsor. Dig deeper, though, and the findings become
Reading, for example, relates directly to age: The older you
are, the more time you allocate to reading for personal interest (books,
magazines, newspapers). Teens spend just seven minutes a day on reading (not
including homework or time on the Internet); people age 20 to 34 read for 10
minutes. The 45-to-54 demo reads for nearly twice as long (19 minutes). The
biggest demo for reading? Age 75-plus -- a contingent with more leisure time
(nearly eight hours) than any other age group and plenty of time to read (72
The survey was based on interviews
in 2003 with about 21,000 people age 15 and older. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics published initial findings last fall and continues to analyze and
release more detailed data. It will issue annual updates starting later this
year to show how use of time changes over time.
Internet data lacking
survey has limitations. Ms. Herz said the government hasn’t found a good way to
track multitasking -- cooking while watching TV, for example -- and so it asks
consumers to identify their primary activity. The survey also lacks deep
Ms. Herz said the Bureau of Labor
Statistics designed the ongoing survey so new questions could be added. She said
it will consider questions from private enterprise if companies or industry
groups can find at least one government agency to sponsor and submit proposals.
A look at some areas where
Americans spend their time:
The old and young
have the most leisure time. People age 35 to 44 have the least free time -- and,
not coincidentally, spend the most time taking care of children.
Leisure time depends on such
factors as age, work, education and children in the household, but Ms. Herz
noted that consumers across demo groups tend to spend roughly half their free
time watching TV.
Still, actual hours in front of the
tube vary considerably. College-educated workers spend 1.4 hours a day -- 6% of
their 24 hours -- watching TV. Consumers with a high-school diploma but no job
spend four hours a day -- 17% of their existence -- watching the small screen.
Americans tend to do less physical
activity -- exercise and sports -- as they get older. Teens are active 40
minutes a day; people from age 35 on spend 15 minutes or less being active.
Consumers with bachelor’s degrees or higher tend to do more.
First, the bad
news for marketers: On an average day, only four in 10 Americans buy something.
Now the better news: Americans on average spend 24 minutes a day shopping; 20
minutes on a weekday; 27 minutes on Sunday; and 42 minutes on Saturday. (The
results raise the question as to why many retailers are fixated on Sunday
newspapers, arriving after the big shopping day.)
Women on an average day spend 50%
more time shopping than do men. This partly reflects that women are more
frequent shoppers. On days when men do shop, the time they spend isn’t that
different from women.
Shopping time has a decided
education skew. College-educated consumers spend more time shopping than
high-school graduates, who spend more time than those without a diploma. This
skew probably reflects that college graduates typically have more disposable
The study proved out
the work-at-home trend: Nearly one in five people does some or all of their work
The more education consumers have,
the more likely they are to work at home. Just 9% of workers without high-school
diplomas and 13% of those with diplomas reported working from home; nearly a
third of college graduates did their jobs from home.
Sleep is Americans’
favorite use of time. Americans spend an average of 8.6 hours a day sleeping --
8.3 on weekdays, 9.0 on Saturday and 9.6 on Sunday. Women generally sleep a few
minutes longer than men -- except for teens, where the boys out sleep the girls.
Teens age 15 to 19 rule the roost
on sleep at an average 9.4 hours a day, beating the runners-up -- the 75-plus
crowd -- by more than 20 minutes a day.