In-Scope: R U Paying ATTN!? Multi-screening, Self-esteem and the Effects on Advertising

Multi-screening, Self-esteem and the Effects on Advertising

Multi-screening has rapidly become a norm in behaviour for our everyday media consumption. Nearly all of us do it – with nine in ten of the 2076 participants in the survey claiming to multitask with other mediums during TV.

In general, most studies and research identify that media multi-tasking leads to worse recall and recognition, supporting the idea that undertaking more than one activity at a time is normally detrimental in our focus and retain-ability. However, there is a significant lack of understanding (and research) around the effect that it has on recall and recognition of advertising.

Some things to consider….

Persuasion and relation to self-esteem

Whether it is to entertain or inform consumers, media is all about persuasion and it seems that self-esteem has been found to be a foundational concept to how much we can be persuaded. Some studies have identified how consumers with lower self-esteem have tended to be more susceptible to the influence of others, less likely to question and counter argue advertising claims, as well as being more likely to agree to the persuasive messages.

Does multi-screening have a positive impact on ad impact?

Jeong and Hwang found that engaging with ‘simultaneous media’ (e.g. consuming multiple sources while multi-screening) can, in fact, result in higher positive attitudes through induced distractions and lessened counter arguing with what adverts are actually saying. Similarly, Yoon, Choi, and Song have shown how audiences using simultaneous media are more likely to identify obvious brand placements in movies as likeable than those solely watching the movie. And it is likely this will be elevated for individuals with low vs. high self-esteem.



Although people argue that the effectiveness of advertisement can be reduced if we are simply in a more irritated set of mind, there is research to suggest that you can create positive media effects by motivating certain dimensions of media multitasking. For example, media multitasking with social networking sites (such as Facebook) negatively affects our self-esteem and therefore we are less irritated by the ads we see. So, when we see positive content on Facebook and engage in upward comparison, it leads to lower self-esteem while media multi-tasking with Facebook (and other social networks) as opposed to non-social information/content site (like an online article). To put it simply, the effect of media multitasking on our irritability towards advertising, is mediated through the state of our self-esteem while we are multitasking with Facebook, but not for when we are multitasking with an online article that is informational.

To capture as well as retain our consumer’s attention has become more and more challenging for advertisers. As discussed, studies have shown that engaging in media multitasking modifies both our cognitive and attitudinal way in which we process our media content. So, undeniably it affects how we respond to the various persuasive messages that are embedded in the media we see, read and hear.

It’s clear that we can’t assume a negative relationship between consumer attention, on the one hand, and multi-screening on the other. With the ongoing evolution in media consumption habits continued unabated, it goes without saying that we need to further our research. We need to provide a better understanding of how ads are consumed in a multi-screening context and ensure we can design campaigns that can take maximum advantage of the context of their multi-tasking consumption.

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