Premium Drives Dating, Music Engagement, Revs

lookingatsmartphoneAt the Mapping Mobile Conference at New York University’s Stern School of Business last week, panelists spoke about everything from consumer research to dating sites. One dominant takeaway is that people who are willing to pay for service to reduce advertising will generate a bigger pool of people willing to pay premium. The other grab: more and more subscribing, talking and listening is happening on mobile. 

But what's becoming more difficult is getting people to talk about how they use content, which has massive implications for advertisers, said Ash Dhupar, SVP and global head of research at the NPD Group. He said survey-reporting behavior is changing as younger demographics are not responding to emails -- “particularly teenagers. Panelists are completing fewer and fewer surveys and tenured panelists report fewer transactions," he said. 



So the firm is exploring ways to collect and analyze data, he said. For example, it is testing a channel involving panelists using their cameras and microphones instead of a standard form. "We asked ourselves how we could use the power of the camera in a mobile device -- for example, to help a client better understand the types of food people eat around the world." 

The concept -- called Snap Survey -- involves a subject taking a photo of a product service within a client-relevant context, and within 30 seconds receiving a short survey. Dhupar said the questions boil down to key queries that take between five to seven minutes. 

Dhupar said that out of an initial query to two million U.S. consumers -- a national representative population -- 38,000 people opted in, including 42% with a smartphone. A little over 10% agreed to do it and 600 actually did, garnering 1,300 pictures. He said the experiment garnered a database "of real experiences." 

Jui Ramaprasad, assistant professor of information systems at McGill University, talked about her research on user-generated consumer-to-consumer interactions both in music and dating channels. She said revenue opportunities for channels like and Pandora lie in upgrades to premium, in no small part because premium users influence free users to move to premium. "There's strong peer influence and social engagement."

She said, for example, that premium subscriptions constitute 75% of revenues on dating sites like, where 46% of the online single population goes to find dates. "Online dating is social engagement: it means logging on and viewing other profiles, sending messages and interacting," she notes, adding that the connections can drive upgrade to premiums subscriptions.

Ramaprasad also echoed Dhupar's observation that mobile is becoming a dominant channel for consumer interaction. "While both desktop and mobile are growing, in 2013 the latter overtook the former in growth," she said. Surprisingly, on dating channels people write longer messages on mobile as well. She said women's messages are 77% longer than they were last year and men's only 5% longer. 

David Katz, director audience advertising product solutions at Time, Inc., observed that people consume content on desktops during free time as a reward for having finished a task. "You finish a job, now go and watch video; that's PC. Mobile usage across the day is about snippets of found time."

Loolking at Smartphone photo from Shutterstock

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