Thursday, February 22, 2007

Consumers are ripping up the old model - like you didn't know

More evidence that consumers have decided enough is enough when it comes to obtaining media content. A recent research piece in the UK showed that many consumers zap through ads using digital recorders to time shift their viewing. Similarly research from Australia shows that more consumers than ever are using technologies such as BitTorrent to get to "their" programs when they want rather than when they are told they can have them. For marketing researchers, this means that we need to figure out a new and improved measurement system sooner rather than later to tell if anyone is watching our adverts. The proportion of people watching via Sky+ or similar technologies is small but the adoption rate will increase no doubt as factors such as HDTV switchover, more adoption of Media centre type PC’s and better broadband services kick in.

In theory, this change in viewing patterns should drive down the overall budget for broadcast advertising on the assumption that better targeting will mean less wastage. However it’s not clear that this will indeed be the overall impact for products with mass appeal. Would a brand such as Sony only want to advertise to people with the budget to spend £1200 on a TV? Aren’t they advertising to other groups for the longer term brand image? If it’s more difficult for Sony to get to 8m or so consumers via TV then it’s likely that their costs may indeed rise. It’s niche brands that can make the most use of superior targeting offered by new technology.

One other point on Sky+ - I really wonder whether broadcasters such as Channel 4 have investigated whether their ad breaks are too long for the new age. When we watch a big name show on 4 at home, we almost always play it back via Sky+ because we know the ad breaks run to 4 min lengths. By stretching a 45 min show to an hour, I wonder if they are really doing themselves or advertisers any favours. I would think that shorter ad breaks mean less zapping but it’s only the good folks at Sky who can tell us this.

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