Commentary

Rules, Trends And Avoiding Shiny Objects

After last week’s grim weather in New York, I traveled from what seemed like one polar extreme (literally) to another to speak at NATPE and also IIR’s Media Insights and Engagement Conference.

For the NATPE panel, my fellow panelists (David Poltrack of CBS and Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies) and I were each asked to come armed with three rules for assessing new technologies and five trends we felt would significantly impact the world of TV and video over the next decade.

One of our instructions was to think about how these rules and trends enable a business to best steer clear of the perils of The Hype Trap, or Shiny Object Syndrome.

Of course, if asked to do this on a weekly basis, one’s “rules” and trends would probably vary somewhat according to the focus of the conversations and projects of the preceding days. But here’s a quick run down of what I offered:

3 Rules To Follow When Judging New Technology (there are many more)

1.  Understand what drives (and will drive) adoption and sustained use.  The mass market does not use technology for what it can do. It’s used for what they can do with it and this is an important difference. It’s about understanding the true underlying need states of the audience and how the product or service relates to those.  Consumers may not buy into your offering in exactly the way you expect.  They may respond to some other aspect of the offering that you perhaps considered secondary, so it’s crucial to understand the needs a technology addresses in the eyes of it's prospective user base in order to frame the marketing plan.

2.  Never underestimate the power of inertia, vested interest, resistance to change and irrationality.  Anything conceived, developed and marketed on the basis of its rational attributes alone is likely to fail. We may be drawn to shiny objects, but we don't necessarily adopt them, especially if they require effort or change on our part.  A satisfying and seamless user experience is critical to success. So is the recognition that just because it makes sense to embrace the logical and practical advantages offered by a new technology, the vast majority of people may either stick with the established way of doing things or take much longer to adopt en masse than the rational, linear business plan expects. Humans are messy, irrational beings. Plan for that.

3. Look at past “failures.” Businesses and products may not have succeeded, but elements of the underlying proposition may have gained traction and point the way forward. In the era before smartphones, PDAs were our multitasking handheld portables of choice. They have now been consigned to the tech graveyard as a result of being beaten out by the array of smartphones we now enjoy.  In reality though, the PDA was absorbed by smartphones into it’s own array of functions. Similarly, Google Glass is popularly deemed to be failing for all but the digerati (a segment that can’t support a product alone) but the essence of it is guiding development in wearable tech, helping to stimulate interest and will result in more mass market-friendly offerings.

5 Important Trends Impacting TV and Video Over The Next Decade

1. Mobility – an improved mobile video experience across more devices will create more opportunities for programmers, producers and advertisers. An inevitable component of this is the location-specific opportunities provided by mobility, which we are only just beginning to understand from the consumer perspective.

2. Connected TVs - finally the TV is looking like it will have a meaningful return path. Right now, there are more Connectable TVs being sold than are actually being connected or fully utilized on a habitual basis. But this will change over time as programmers and marketers leverage the opportunity and provide more compelling reasons for people to use what they have.

3.  Connectivity - will continue to improve and become more ubiquitous across devices and locations, facilitating anytime-anywhere video. In part, this relates to “the Internet of things” and the evolution and adoption of connected appliances etc. But fundamentally, it also relates to significantly increased bandwidth availability and the subsequent improvements to the user experience, download times etc.

4.  Time-Shifting - the underlying technologies and platforms that enable time-shifting will continue to develop and diversify; measurement will develop to enable full monetization of the behavior. Time-shifting facilitates new patterns of viewing. For some types of programs, the broadcast schedule could ultimately become the marketing platform for the long tail of time-shifted viewing.

5. Pace and Complexity - accept that almost any tech platform will most likely be radically different or even irrelevant in 10 years time. Structure your organization (and your own skill set) to thrive on that.

These are by no means the only points one could list here and each is worthy of a lengthy discussion in itself. I’d be intrigued to know which you think are the greatest omissions.

 

 

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