Consumers Want Intelligent Help From Internet, Study Finds

Consumers want Internet-connected services that will take care of everyday, repetitive tasks for them and anticipate their needs with timely reminders and encouragement. They'd also like to have options to choose among in terms of service providers -- and if they get user-friendly technology that delivers on what's promised, then those companies can expect to get return business.

Those were among the lessons shared by CTAM from a new study of "connected consumers" done with the research firm Magid. The research involved focus groups of "Internet of things" early adopters and people who were interested in acquiring smart-home products. CTAM plans to release the study to members of the marketing association soon, after discussing it at a meeting in New York on Tuesday of the cable and telecommunications marketing association's Advanced Video and Insights + Analytics councils.

CTAM CEO Vicki Lins said the research pointed to opportunities for cable companies and programmers, even though the brands that consumers in the study expected to rely on for connected tech solutions were Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. Consumers said they want a range of choices, and if cable companies can serve their consumers well and continue introducing voice-enabled search and other time-saving innovations on top of reliable broadband, then cable can win its share of their business, she said.

In August, Magid worked with more than 100 men and women on the study. They were a mix of pay-TV customers, cord cutters and cord nevers and were in 15 focus groups in three cities (Austin, Texas; San Francisco, Calif., and Alexandria, Va.). 

Early adopters were "forgiving and demanding," CTAM and Magid said, and Internet-of-Things prospects were "excited, yet hesitant." 

Google's combining of calendar and map apps to send a reminder that it's time to head out to the next destination is the kind of application consumers are looking for. "As consumers become accustomed to everything being one click or voice command away, they grow frustrated by routine tasks that could be solved more intelligently," Jill Rosengard Hill, executive VP at Magid, said in a release about the study. This leads consumers to believe that the more technology delivers in one part of their life, the more it should simplify the other parts of their life."

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There's a lot of interest in technology that can help with caring for the elderly and physically challenged with a mix of monitoring, on-demand interaction and coaching, the study found.

Consumers aspire to have devices, platforms and brands that work together and that "get to know me" -- and they want worry-free, ubiquitous connectivity.

Based on the research, CTAM and Magid expect password sharing and tapping into unauthorized content to continue, and it's up to the affected industries to figure out how to provide simple, easy and reasonably-priced access to minimize that behavior. CTAM and Magid also published an infographic to illustrate the study results.

This article was updated to reflect in the headline that the story is based on a study, not a survey.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.