Surviving the New-Media Jungle

The speed at which the media consumer has embraced the “whatever, whenever, wherever” revolution has not only been dazzling, but it has caused the content creation and delivery sectors to amp up their business plans as well.

The modern media consumer has come to expect ubiquitous access to TV shows, music and movies, whether streamed to a PC or downloaded to a portable media player. Next on the horizon are broadband-powered mobile phones with multimedia capabilities and wireless hubs that link the TV to the PC. Linear TV will continue to exist, of course, but only as one of the components of the media ecosystem.

Traditional suppliers are looking to adapt, realizing it’s imperative to anticipate how the viewer will use these increasingly powerful content acquisition and manipulation tools. So, how should the modern media executive approach this brave new world?

For one thing, understanding the modern media consumer is crucial. It is no longer enough to target the “18-to-49” demographic and hope the message gets through the electronic fog. Ongoing research into their changing viewing and interaction habits is essential to keeping up with the way they use a growing arsenal of technological tools.

The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing and Nielsen Media Research are currently examining broadband video usage and its impact on traditional TV viewing. This research employs Nielsen/NetRatings panels to behaviorally identify heavy, moderate and light Broadband Video Users, capturing psychographic profiles in a custom quantitative survey which will subsequently be linked and fused to enter more data. Digital laboratory facilities are also being used for more in-depth exploration. To date, topline findings from this study include:

  • Brands still matter, but not as much as they used to — and only if they live up to expectations.
  • The bar for best practices keeps getting raised because of competition. Care needs to be given to make sure the “look and feel” of the brand is consistent across each of the media it uses.
  • New technologies can protect existing business models if used judiciously. For instance, when ABC decided to stream programs via its Web site, it allowed viewers to fast forward through program content, but not through the commercial.
  • Search and navigation matter. In a 24/7, on-demand world, the content distributor that most efficiently satiates viewer demand for speedy access has the advantage.

More research is needed to provide a rich perspective on current broadband users, their attitudes and usage of broadband video content, and its impact on their television viewing. The biggest challenge is not matching content with the viewer — it is changing the business rules of content fast enough to make sure consumers, out of frustration to get access, don’t circumvent the process by which content owners get paid.

Accordingly, research-based insights into the new motivators of the new-media consumer are imperative to meet the challenges of this ongoing revolution. Stay tuned.