All technology is transitional. From the spear to the rifle; the horse and cart to the SUV; the telegraph to the Internet.
While we seek to best understand the impact and evolving behaviors that relate to technologies and related functions in the home –- the DVR, the tablet, STB data etc. -- we also have to anticipate the direction of future change.
While we may not be able to predict the rate of change and the extent to which it makes a meaningful difference to consumer behavior, markets are not sufficiently forgiving to allow time to play catch up once that change has manifested.
It’s incumbent upon media owners, agencies and brands to be as close to the arc of change as possible without getting so close that they get ahead of it, while pursuing opportunities that have yet to become sufficiently mature.
Naturally it’s a risky game. Align with an emerging technology or medium too soon and you waste money because there was no “there” there. Test the same platform too late and you’re behind the competitive set and seen as an also ran. Things aren’t made any easier in tough economic times, when budgets for experimentation are somewhere between limited and non-existent.
But in order to envision a future and what it might it might mean for brands and how they communicate with consumers, it helps to ask a few forward-looking questions:
When will phones be completely hands-free? When will we be able to connect verbally and access the Web with just our voices and gestures? What will the mobile interface look like then? How will ads be targeted and inserted?
How will permissions-based automatic check-ins deliver value? Rather than go through the sometimes tedious task of social check-ins while arriving at or passing through different locations, social check-ins are likely to become automated and permissions based. How will brands get onto the list of permitted locations/activities so offers can be made and points awarded?
Near-Field Communications makes much of this possible already, but it has yet to make a dent in general consumer behavior among FoursSquare and other communities. It’s only a matter of time before the proposition is shaped and communicated properly.
What if consumers get to own their own data? A nightmare scenario for many, this is still a possibility -- at least to some extent. Like it or not, if consumers have the right to control their own data -- or at least to have it made crystal clear what is being done with it and by who -- then brands and media owners will need to learn a different language (and possibly a way of relating to consumers) to maintain mutually meaningful relationships. Some say it will never happen, but it’s not that clear cut.
What will the video business be like if 50% of all viewing is on demand? If this scenario played out across all platforms for all video –-- and especially for professionally produced video emanating from the world of TV -- then the media business will be very different in many respects.
Some very senior figures claim the broadcast schedule will ultimately go away. If that is so, it’s likely to be a very long
time coming, but the placement, measurement and the buying and selling of advertising will change radically. It could lead to better targeting, higher CPMs and more engaged audiences -- but only
if the industry lays the groundwork to evolve.
All of these scenarios may or may not come to pass. If they do, history suggests it is likely to be in a manner we don’t fully anticipate, using only logic and an understanding of technology. (Those pesky, irrational consumers have a habit of messing things up.) But not to consider such developments is to invite missed opportunities.