02 October 2007

Trends in media consumption - everything is in the background

I saw this from Nicolas Nova at Pasta & Vinegar - he summarizes a presentation from Swisscom Innovaton's Stefana Broadbent at Pic Nic 2007. Broadbent and her team tracked communication and digital practice for hundreds of people over time, and they discovered that new forms of media are not necessarily replacing old ones - people are simply consuming more at once. People who watch youtube are still watching TV. Local radio and newspapers aren't "dead," as some have claimed. Nova on Broadbent:
Her message was then that there is no substitution, everything is added: more devices, more channels, more media and nothing is thrown out. What happens is that every media is moving in the background, becoming wallpaper: IM+email are ran in the background, Music IS the background, TV is being viewed in background, Daily newspapers are read in the background.
If this is true, it makes the decisions for communicators that much harder, given finite resources. We have to dig deeper to see if any of these "background" media have more impact than the rest, or if we have to be everywhere the audience is. I suspect we must be everywhere, but that's quickly becoming a more time consuming and expensive proposition - especially given the critical importance of relationships in new media communications. Furthermore, the demands for metrics in a more diffused and competitive communications environment will only increase. The company that develops meaningful measurement tools should make a bundle. Given the pace of innovation in communications tools, the chances of developing valuable metrics seem more difficult every day. (Not impossible, just difficult.)

Of course, this isn't new, and other industries have managed to have both quantitative and qualitative criteria for measurement. Last week Liz Gumbinner was at dinner with a group of us in New York (funny how being a prominent blogger makes people forget you're also a bigshot advertising exec) and was challenged by a gentleman from The Conference Board on the metrics of a mention in a blog post. She gave a really great answer - "How do you measure the value of placing a can of Diet Coke in George Clooney's hand?"

Right now, companies have an either-or decision when it comes to investing in social media, particularly at the intersection of social media and issues management. Do you want to be present when people discuss your issues or your brands, or don't you? Measurement will follow, as it always does, but we can't let gaps in metrics justify ignoring the conversations altogether.


mothergoosemouse said...

Maybe that's why social media feels so comfortable to me. I grew accustomed to the incessant questions regarding the ROI of IT - something that's also quite difficult to quantify, particularly when it involves changing entrenched business practices.

Different application, similar challenge.

Mom101 said...

Excellent excellent points. I knew I would ramble a bunch of stuff over the course of the night, and you in turn would hand-pluck one comment and make me sound smart.

You articulate the role of social media perfect - it's amazing how marketers keep wondering when it will replace tv.

Al said...

Simultaneous media use is relatively common, but people only have a limited amount of free time and a limited capacity for multitasking, so if you keep adding media options, the average time spent on each, shared or not, has to go down, that's just physics.