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By Saul Berman, Global Strategy Consulting Leader, IBM Global Business Services

The much heralded “connected consumer era” is no longer on the way; it has arrived. And as connectedness pervades our daily lives, we continue to crave even more. For example, a recent journal reported that people check their smart phones an average of 34 times per day, and more video is updated to YouTube in one month than the three major U.S. networks created in 60 years.

Recently IBM’s think tank, the Institute for Business Value, put on its anthropologist hat and surveyed more than 3,800 consumers in six countries (China, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US), compiling our findings in a new study called “Beyond Digital.”

Here’s some of what we uncovered:

  • Four new types of content consumption behaviors (Viewing on Demand, Non-Linear Viewing, Mobile Viewing and Social Consumption) Also known as “time-shifting,” Viewing on Demand is now the norm – especially in  the UK and the U.S. where more than half of the early adopters and mainstream consumers access online video whenever it suits their schedules through sites such as Hulu and Netflix, or via video on demand services through their home TVs.Description: http://asmarterplanet.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifThree fourths of the adults we surveyed are “Non-Linear Viewers,” admitting to surfing the web and texting while watching television. Mobile Viewing is also gaining traction, with more than 50 percent of early adopter and mainstream consumer respondents in Japan, the UK and the U.S. regularly accessing content on their smart phones or other portable devices. Social Consumption is also on the rise: across the global sample, 46 percent fall in this category — using digital content to communicate socially (via Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
  • Digital consumers can be profiled via four personalities – Efficiency Experts, Content Kings, Social Butterflies and Connected Maestros. The majority (41 percent) of respondents classify themselves as Efficiency Experts, using digital content to simplify their lives, while surprisingly 35 percent claim to be Connected Maestros who frequently communicate with friends and family online using mobile phones.
  • Age is no longer the most important segmentation when it comes to categorizing consumers. Seventy-seven percent of 45-54 year-olds and three quarters of folks in the 55-64 age bracket expressed a willingness to adopt new consumer electronics devices.  In the past M&E providers could simply focus on what younger consumers expect and thus reach the majority of connected consumers — but not anymore.

What can the M&E Industry learn from these behaviors? The bottom line is that digitizing content is not enough. Media and Entertainment providers must practice new rules of engagement.

We believe four major steps can help them as they evolve beyond digital:

1. Act like a B2C company – regardless of where they sit in the M&E Value chain, M&E companies need to deliver tailored experiences that match consumers’ digital personalities, and must find ways to interact directly with consumers, soliciting and incorporating their input at every turn.

2. Target consumers based on the four “digital personalities” described above, which are not age-based, but instead are based on the combination of degree of access to content and intensity of content interaction.

3. Deliver relevant, enhanced experiences.  While in the past it may have been sufficient merely to deliver content using digital channels, targeting consumers based on their digital personalities requires a whole new approach. For example, a critical mass of global consumers say they look forward to interacting more personally with digital content — many would like to control sports replays or the angle of a movie scene as viewers. And others want to take virtual turns at bat between the professional players at a baseball game. To deliver the desired experiences, content cannot stand alone. Appealing content has to reach the right consumers (by using analytics), when and where they desire (using a smart, integrated infrastructure), with the right features (such as social).

4. Monetize content successfully. This is the tricky part. Even with tailored, captivating content for their customers, content providers will still wrestle with how to expand their revenue models to fit the consumers’ expectations and benefit from digital offerings. These new revenue models will need to evolve beyond a “one size fits all” mold and offer the relevancy, choice, integration and packaging options consumers demand. As digital content proliferates, the potential revenue streams need to multiply beyond what was historically available. This may sound confusing and threatening, but in reality it is an opportunity to develop new revenue streams that can make even more money in the long-term…it will just be made in different ways than in the past.

Getting the required multiple business models right will be the ultimate challenge for the industry, but the expanded ability to create relevant, enhanced consumer experiences will move M&E providers beyond digital and create new value — something we can all look forward to, regardless of our digital personality type.


 

 

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