Mobile media set to overtake Print and TV consumption

How to manage the seismic shift

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‘Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them’.
- Steve Job, Source: Lifehack

The mobile revolution is here. It has recently overtaken media consumption in terms of time spent from our most treasured device - the humble TV - and the printed newspaper may be its next victim. In this post we take a look at what the latest surveys on mobile and tablet usage are telling us about changing consumer behaviours and how should companies react to ensure they don’t get left behind? User consumption is increasingly pointing in favour of digital, but how are more traditional outlets adapting their business model to stop it in their tracks? For brands to survive it is either adapt or die.

The mobile + tablet equation

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Our relationship with our mobile is changing (no, not like in the film Her) and brands need to be prepared, especially when it comes to eCommerce operating systems that need to allow consumers to make purchasing and reviewing decisions.

According to research by eMarketer earlier this year, Brits will spend more time consuming media via their desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones compared to televisions this year. Spending a total of 8.5 hours consuming media a day, compared with 3 hours 15 minutes as the average TV viewing a day. This includes dual screening with an hour spent watching TV whilst on social media, or playing games on a smartphone, counting as both an hour of TV and an hour of digital.

A nationwide survey of 2,000 adults by Weve last year found that 46% of 18-34 year olds cite their mobile decides as their most important screen. Mobile is not just a youth trend, it is across all demographics, as the Harvard Business Review reported last year; 20% of traffic to Amazon, Wikipedia and Facebook is from mobile-only users, and 46% of shopper exclusively use their mobile to conduct ore-purchase research on local products and services.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rise of this ‘mobile-only’ user persona has led to advertising on mobile becoming mainstream, in terms of its prevalence and marketing spend. We are no longer prepared to put up with sites that only allow you to purchase items on their desktop version. This change in expectations provides a greater opportunity for the brands that do have superior mobile applications. Online outreach has a greater potential for real-time and personalised campaigns, either in the traditional ad format or via content marketing as part of a user’s conscious and unconscious decision-making process.

In terms of the tablet revolution, although growth in this market is steady, 2015 is expected to be the one for this device. Gartner recently revealed that global tablet sales will reach more than 320 million units next year, against 316 million PC units. It doesn’t take a maths genius to work out that this means tablet sales are set to outpace desktop sales for the first time. Moreover, a paper released by IDG Global Solutions in June found the following:

  • Tablet has replaced the printed newspaper and magazine in 50% and 47% of instances across all age groups.
  • Smartphones has replaced printed newspaper and magazine in 41% and 33% of instances across all age groups.
  • Replacing traditional media with mobile was slightly more common for respondents aged 18-34. 65% of 18-34 year olds use their smartphone/tablet while using another device simultaneously.
  • The majority multi-screen with TVs seeing much less of a decline at 14% for tablet and 9% for tablet.

Source: IDG Global Solutions – Global Mobile Survey 2014 – Mobile Evolution

The printed newspaper and magazine are the last bastions of the non-digital age (aside from their in-house printing and design processes). However there has been recent digital moves by the Guardian and the New Yorker publications to a more digital model, the leaders are starting to move the pack towards a predominately online presence. Taking the New Yorker, a magazine publication which is celebrating its 90th year, as an example, their new responsive site has led to a clean aesthetic look and feel. Moving away from replicating printed media content online, which is much less cluttered than one of its classmates, The Spectator. The implementation of paywall access, a feature which is also prevalent across many UK publications such as The Times, also leaves the door open for people to buy the publication for more insight. 

The future of media consumption

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What this research above highlights is that people are now predominately consuming information via three means: mobile, tablet and television. We have discussed the impact of the first two, but how is our beloved TV coping with the digital transition? In the past decade the way we watch TV has completely changed. Most of you will remember a time when if you missed your favourite programme you would have to as your mate what had happened in the previous episode. The game changed in 2006 when Channel 4 launched 4 on Demand (4oD), swiftly followed by the BBC who launched its iPlayer catch-up service in 2007. These services demonstrate a genius marketing move by traditional media outlets.

What is more, by adding these catch-up services to digital subscription channels, such as Sky and Virgin Media, now means that you can stream or download programmes straight onto your digital set-top box rather than huddling round your laptop or tablet. Both offerings, together with the various array from Sky, Five and ITV, also offer the ability to download programmes onto your mobile and tablet devices for when you’re out and about without WiFi. At the present time this option is not available on non-traditional subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Love Film, most likely due to copyright fears. To coin the BBCs iPlayer strapline, to ensure dominance in this marketplace you must make ‘the unmissable, unmissable’. Adapting to digital form and allowing consumption of media via whatever means they want to – the ‘Cloud’, offline, online - in the new world of right here, right now technology.

In terms of the next breakthrough, one is already bubbling through for visual media. Welcome to the party, Mr Smart TV. To keep up with the surge of modern internet-enabled devices the latest TVs also come with built-in connectivity. As a society we are getting more and more information hungry. Therefore the introduction of televisions which integrate applications, YouTube for instance, and allow you to view your holiday snaps or presentation slides, make it a far more viable future medium. The control is back with the viewer who has the ultimate freedom over their screen based activities. I don’t know about you, but my TV remains an integral part of my downtime, from streaming movies to connecting my phone to listen to my playlists, it is no longer a device to be used just for channel hopping, it can be whatever channel you want it to be. The introduction and inevitable adoption of add-ons such as Google’s Chromecast and Apple TV only add more to the era of streaming. So television is faring well for now, what’s the story for music consumption?

On-demand music streaming services, such as Spotify, increased by 42% in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to Neilson SoundScan data released earlier this month. At the same time, digital music sales of individual tracks decreased 13% for the first time since iTunes launched in 2003. Modern vehicles are even coming with built-in digital streaming and Bluetooth technology to connect Spotify and alike wirelessly, so even Radio is at risk at the hands of the digital revolution. Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom, Neilson found that revenue overall in the music industry is up, nevertheless even the big players are having to change their game to keep up.

If you require any evidence of the catastrophic impact of not recognising digital trends, heed the warning from HMV, the now defunct high street music chan. In the earlier noughties, their MD refused to adapt its operating model to adapt to the rise of digital downloads and considered them as just a fad. It also lacked considerable investment in their online offering and couldn’t compete with the supermarkets offline, by the time it realised this it was too late and the company folded. Ignorance may be bliss for the bank account for a while except it won’t stop the digital investment wolf from banging on the door at some point. There will always be a call for records to be consumed in their physical form, however this is becoming more and more muffled and soon it will be the niche of the LP record store. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself when was the last time you watched a Video Cassette Tape? The demise of music consumption via the CD is upon us.

The scales are moving in favour of mobile, on demand media, which side of the tipping point are you on? We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve integrated mobile into your business model and what impact this has had. Or if you’re a consumer, how has your consumption of visual and audio media changed in recent years? Are you a digital native or do you prefer more traditional means? Drop us a comment below or tweet us @PerceptiveFlow

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