If you’re familiar with our research this year you’ll know about the Media Meltdown. It’s when traditional media business models build around controlling the distribution of inherently scarce content are undermined by the digitization of content. Exacerbated by the recession, it’s wreaking havoc across the media space (in case you hadn’t noticed). Media companies have been very vocal in sharing their pain, while consumers have been feasting on a growing supply of free content online.
But while consumers’ reluctance to pay for online content is widely recognized, it is neither universal nor inevitable. Amid the rubble of the media meltdown, it is possible to detect a glimmer of hope for those trying to make money from the boom in online media consumption. In a recent Forrester survey, while the number of European internet users who have paid for some kind of online content is 27%, a figure that grows significantly when we include those who say they might pay in the future. When we asked people what they might pay for, the greatest prospects would appear to be music, movies and e-books, although none of these markets is anywhere near maturity.
Some recent events make me hopeful that major moves are afoot with enhancing panel quality.
Since the beginning of online surveys, there have been questions about how clean the online panels that enable them are. Questions abounded about representativeness, fraud, professional survey takers, inattentive survey takers and the like. The response from panel vendors has been that they have strong measures in place, and that the problems were overstated. Naysayers have claimed bad sample numbers that range from 20-30%. Buyer's of sample were largely in a "trust me" position, since most of the quality measures were in the hands of the panel vendor. Associations (such as ESOMAR and ARF), have come up with protocols that all good panels should follow, and many have.
EMI have announced the launch of Abbey Road Live, a service that records high quality audio and video footage of live concerts and produces take away CDs, DVDs and USB sticks for concert goers.Though this may not be as big a headline grabbing story as MSN Music’s attempt to take on Spotify, it is illustrative of an arguably much more important trend.
Forrester clients and other regular readers of this blog will know that we’ve spent much of this year developing our big idea about Media Meltdown and the associated series of research documents.(For those not up to speed see this blog post and this report and this report.)The overly boiled down summary is that traditional media companies are having to reinvent themselves as consumers’ willingness to pay for content nosedives.Hence 360 deals etc.
You may have seen the news about Marvell Technology Group, a chip-maker, integrating its chips into E Ink's display modules. This sounds very tech-y, but it has real consequences for the consumer experience of eReaders. Namely:
It speeds up the refresh rate of the E Ink screen...One of the first things consumers notice when trying out an E Ink-based eReader is the noticeably long delay when flipping a page or taking another action like changing the text size. This is especially annoying on touch devices like the Sony Touch Edition. Consumers are used to the iPhone touch experience, and the experience they have on the Web clicking on links--if they don't get immediate feedback, they assume it's not working. Currently, the microprocessing chip operates outside the display module, which is one reason why it's so slow. Integrating the chip into the E Ink display module will speed up the refresh rate of the screen by as much as half, according to Marvell, in addition to driving down manufacturing costs.
...Which creates a better user experience, and enables animation and other cool stuff. In addition to being generally less annoying for consumers, integrating the chip into the display will enable animated content--not full-on video, but black-and-white animation that will be useful especially for ads. Marvell has announced that they're working with FirstPaper (the secretive company backed by Hearst) as one of their partners, and having seen their device I can attest that they put the technology to good use. Marvell has said they'll announce more partners at CES in January, including companies working on dual-screen devices that need the faster processing capability for video and Web browsing
Marketers don't think they're very good at measuring social media.
When my colleague Emily Riley asked marketers to
rate their ability to measure the impact of their social media
initiatives, the average grade they gave themselves was 4.5 out of 10.
Not a great score -- especially given that accountability is one of the
key selling points of interactive marketing. So I've spent a lot of
time this year trying to understand why marketers aren't good at
measuring social media -- and how they can do better.
If you have holiday marketing plans that include a social media campaign, you're not alone. Between viral videos for new products, Facebook communities for fans, and tweets for midnight sales and other deals, every product marketer out there has something planned. What this means is that you've got a lot of competition and a lot of clutter to shout over. So how can you rise above the pack?
Start early! You should already be listening to what consumers say they want for Christmas. See what the buzz is on budget/economy conversations as well as product or brand specific ones. This way, when you do start talking, you'll be saying the right things and answering the right questions. You should also already have looked at last years' search patterns and started bidding on the appropriate keywords for this season. Don't forget to send some of that traffic to your social media as well as your own home page.
Last week I co-hosted a session at Forrester's Consumer Forum on innovative research. John Kearon, CEO of Brainjuicer, lead a discussion with panel members Sion Agami from Procter and Gamble, Jan Angel from Altria and Bob Pankauskas from Allstate.
These three market researchers shared how introducing innovations to the research mix lead to additional insights and increased commitment from senior management. But it's not always easy. Some best practices they've shared with the audience: