Media Honeypot: What Do You Need to Know about the Digital Consumer in 2017?

This week, I had the opportunity to speak at Media Honeypot in Helsinki, a conference organized by Arctic Startup designed to connect startups to key players in the European media industry. Over 400 people attended the conference. Speakers included VICE, Bonnier, Axel Springer, and Google. I gave a keynote presentation titled “What Do You Need to Know About the Digital Consumer in 2017?” and also spoke on a panel called “TV Is Dead. Long Live TV.” Here are some of the key points we discussed. For the full deck, download that here.

It’s Multitasking, Cross-Platform World
Consumers are using multiple channels and devices to access content which means they can be exposed to brands and advertising in a variety of ways. Cross-platform solutions are vital, not optional, for media companies to succeed. But the pace of innovation is so rapid, media companies are truly struggling to keep up. Consumer cross-platform media consumption is what is pushing media companies to innovate and (re)consider everything—from content formats to distribution models.

So is TV dead? No, people who watch linear TV are still highly engaged, but digital services have a higher reach of digital content hour-to-hour, as shown in the figure below. Further, consumers are no longer simply watching TV. They are multitasking on their mobile phones while watching—texting, using social, or shopping etc.

As noted above, multitasking between digital and TV ramps up during primetime and peaks in the late evening.

Which format delivers the most opportunities to engage with an audience? It depends where you are. In India, 92/100 digital consumers only use a mobile device. In the U.S., 15% of U.S. are mobile-only and 4/10 people move seamlessly between smartphones, PCs, TV, tablets on any give day. If you are a global media company, this data is daunting.

Engagement and Intensity of Use
What are consumers doing across various screens, when, and how often? Advertisers have now learned that it’s often more important to measure frequency and intensity of use than an absolute number of users or viewers.

The average American unlocks his or her phone every 20 minutes from 10am to 8pm on any given day. And mobile offers 35-40% more incremental reach per hour than desktop PCs. Mobile-centric content consumption offers “on-the-move” content and entertainment and also an opportunity for advertisers to capture an audience’s attention wherever they are.

We have been at the forefront of the conversation about engagement being more important than reach. Look at Snapchat in the U.S.. It has a fraction of Instagram’s audience, but Snapchat’s stickiness index (48% in Dec. 2016 ) is much higher than Instagram’s (30% in Dec. 2016).  Verto’s stickiness rating compares daily and monthly users to quantify the most engaged users.

The Challenges and the Opportunities
In addition to the insights above, there are a few more trends we’re watching that will likely affect media companies:

  • Because of multitasking, time spent on content in total hours could exceed actual waking hours—a change in audience attention metrics which is key for advertisers to know when planning campaigns.
  • Free (YouTube) and freemium services (Netflix or Hulu) are challenging public and premium TV content. Short-form and long-form video content is taking time away from long-form TV (e.g. Snapchat vs. BBC).
  • New user interfaces (e.g. Amazon Echo or Google Home) which do not even require screens is gaining traction. How can media companies ensure their content is discoverable?
  • These new user interfaces will offer compelling opportunities for new players to play the game better (Amazon). We expect that all TV will become “smart TV” giving rise to increasingly smart and connected homes.

Today’s consumer expects media companies to follow and innovate accordingly providing ease of use, seamless delivery, and flexibility. The challenge for the media company is to keep up with that expectation and to measure how big a trend really is. This is why independent measurement must offer a unified view of the cross-device consumer behavior is with comparable metrics across the variety of media channels and content types is vitally important today.  

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