Future of Media - Consumer Choice

  • by September 29, 2011
The future will be the era of consumer choice and consumer voice. Online media is being transformed by consumer choice. As traditional broad-based online media platforms struggle, niche media - including blogs and vertical interest-based sites - are flourishing. Social media platforms - such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - are contributing to this trend by further driving and enabling more personal content creation and curation. Consumers are demanding what they want, and - if it's not available - they're creating it themselves. Consumers choose and that choice will continue to be increasingly broad, niche, varied, instant, and personal.

In exchange for this content, consumers will continue to share their personal data, their interests, demographics, device usage, location and more with advertisers and publishers. Media companies will attempt to aid this personalization with finely-tuned algorithms to serve up ever more desired content and relevant advertising. At the same time, though, consumers will exercise - in fact they will be required to exercise - choice.

This is happening now, for example, consumers decide whether or not to share their location on most smart phones. Through the Digital Advertising Alliance advertising option icon, consumers decide if they want to be served relevant ads based on their surfing behavior. Looking forward however, we see that consumers will more and more engage with trusted Agents to manage their preferences, for content, advertising, and more to ensure greater accountability, less intrusiveness, and better results. Agents and improved mechanisms will help consumers more actively exercise their choices and decide what they want to share, broadcast, or keep private.

The implications of this future are important to consider now. The days of non-transparent collection and use of consumer data are quickly coming to an end. Consumer's desires for more personalized content and the power of more personalized advertising are converging. A new contract with the consumer will need to be drawn to keep their trust, engagement and positive choice for your brand.

The future of media then will depend on greater transparency - through icons, short notices, reminders, etc., easy accessible and useful choice mechanisms (we all know this has to improve dramatically), and finally, trusted and accountable agents to be sure consumers maintain their choices and collectively the value of online media.

Fran Maier, President and Chair, TRUSTe

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