Remember when HBO owned Sunday nights with shows like “The Sopranos” and “Sex in the City?” Times have changed and the notion of “owning” a night of the week feels as old fashioned as a pair of rabbit-ear antennae on an old black-and-white TV set. HBO recently acknowledged the reality of today’s always-on, social, mobile consumers with the announcement that it plans to launch its own video streaming service. “It’s time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO,” said chief executive Richard Plepler.
Given the rapid subscriber growth of Netflix and other Internet streaming media companies — and the growing popularity of HBO Go, HBO’s Internet streaming service — the announcement is hardly surprising. Indeed, in the last few years the consumption of digital media has exploded. Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 have doubled their digital video viewing to more than 27 minutes per day. And even though traditional TV still dominates viewership, taking up about 4.5 hours of the average person’s day, HBO’s entry into the streaming space signals the recognition that consumer preferences for how they watch has shifted dramatically.
The media and entertainment industry is experiencing unprecedented disruption. These changes are affecting long-established models of content development, creation and distribution. And they are forcing media companies to adapt in real-time to shifting desires and preferences of their customers. Yet while most media and entertainment companies are well aware of the changing landscape, many continue to employ outmoded methods of measuring and engaging their audience. Traditional audience ratings services are still a brand’s only go-to form of measurement, customer research lacks agility and versatility and social media has failed to provide the meaningful customer feedback it was believed to deliver. While these approaches may have worked years ago, today’s consumer requires a different touch.
The Missing “Why” in Ratings
Audience ratings data serves an important purpose, but lacks the “why” behind their numbers. With ratings data alone, it’s difficult for media and entertainment companies to know how to cater to a new audience, how best to target different consumers and how to retain their attention, as well as how to keep them coming back for more. In other words, ratings data does a good job of capturing how, when, where and by whom various media are consumed. However, it doesn’t tell media companies why people behave the way they do or why they prefer the programming they do. Ratings also don’t capture consumer attitudes towards specific media platforms and content that change over time.
Old-School MR Is Outdated
Though market research has made strides to move as quickly as today’s new consumers in the form of online surveys and other tools, traditional firms and internal departments are often slow-moving and lack innovation. The same 50-plus page reports that were being produced decades ago remain hard to digest today and seldom yield actionable insight. The market research approaches that worked well when digital options didn’t exist, do not work well here and now. Simply put, classic market research methods can’t keep up or tell the entire story of today’s new, highly-connected and influential media and entertainment customer.
Social Media Is Missing the Mark
Since social media took off, companies have been quick to embrace its promise as a lens into consumer behaviors. Years later, social media is little more than an advertising vehicle or an online customer service center. In fact, here at Vision Critical, we recently worked with three leading brands, including two in the media entertainment space, to see how their customers interact with social media. What we found was that almost 90% of social media activity comes from only 30% of its users. Meaning, companies turning to social media to listen and understand their audience are hearing only a fraction of their entire customer base.
A Silver Lining for Media Companies
What’s a media and entertainment company to do? Enter customer intelligence. Customer intelligence is the process of gathering and analyzing customer information and activity in order to build deeper and more effective customer relationships and improve strategic decision-making. Top media and entertainment companies like Discovery Communications, Yahoo, Conde Nast and many others are turning to their customer intelligence platforms — engaged, online communities of thousands of customers that continuously provide feedback to help improve decision-making. Media and entertainment companies can now truly understand why people are doing what they’re doing over time, their preferences and most importantly, why they make certain decisions over others. Still new to many businesses, customer intelligence is key for media and entertainment brands to win in this new, empowered consumer marketplace.