The Cloud, Channel Agnosticism, Consumer Choice — “Media Everywhere”

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Society & Culture, The Marketing Industry, Trends
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cloud computingFast forward a generation … the concept and delineation of what is “TV” or “online” or “mobile” content will have not existed for some time. What we once referred to as a “media channel” will be irrelevant, and content ubiquitous. We consume what we want anytime, anywhere, on any device. We interact with others and enjoy collective social experiences that are not separate from our content consumption. We shop when we are influenced or reminded of a specific need or want and can do so easily and securely on any device without whipping out a credit card. Consumers have unlimited options and access, and marketers integrate into the experience. It’s an exciting future, and we are well down the path of this reality.

With media, evolution is constant. Old technology, and often the old guard, gets displaced and disrupted by the next big shift. The shift to on-demand has been long underway, and the tipping point is just ahead of us.

While we have all declared 2009 and 2010 the ‘year of mobile’, what we now need to shout from the rooftops is that the convergence of mobile, social, commerce and cloud computing together have created something far more profound.

Mobile connectivity, high quality video and social actions are becoming the standard in our lives. As access to the cloud becomes a reliable always-on connection from any device, content, social objects and commerce surround us, all the time, everywhere. I find myself hopping back and forth from my PC to my iPhone to my iPad at different times, for different reasons. Entertainment, communication, productivity and commerce all feel different on each device, and we tend to gravitate towards a preferred device for specific needs. But ultimately we can access pretty much anything we need from any of them in a pinch.

The Status Quo Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up

Ramifications for the media industry are significant, and the ecosystem has been adapting. There will always be a creator -> distributor -> consumer ecosystem. The consumer only cares about the end result – immediate satisfaction. Content creators are at the other side of the ecosystem and they seem to get the short end of the stick as the value of each media asset decreases with the increase in options and access. However, the market does grow in aggregate, and distributors benefit from the wide variety and massive volume. We have witnessed the separation of content from media channels affect different traditional distribution networks in different ways – newspapers, and magazines getting hit harder and earlier than TV networks and MSO’s for example. But the shift is affecting all traditional channels. The new regime is led by Apple (iTunes) and Amazon, and consumers are paying for content and applications in droves, but the market is wider reaching.

Marketers are becoming more reliant on technology – the data and ad exchanges – in order to reach specific consumers in relevant environments, at the right time. The ad models are evolving, but still in their infancy. Search has become an effective direct response staple of most marketers’ arsenals, but the brand dollars have not followed at the same scale. We have oversold targeting to marketers for years, making the process of buying and managing digital marketing a significantly laborious task. We have currency discrepancies as compared to traditional media. But as the device-specific walls dissolve into a media-everywhere world, as what once was “TV” now becomes content accessed across various devices, the media mix models become a very different beast than ever before. We are about to head into uncharted territory. It’s early in the game, and many winners will emerge. The biggest of all are consumers of course.

This past weekend I found a little downtime (a rarity) and conjured up my inner couch-potato. Interestingly after browsing my DVR, I opted to access Netflix via my Wii and picked up from the point in a TV show where I paused during a long cab in traffic earlier that day, when I was watching on my iPad. This is the cloud, and on-demand, at their best.

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