Monthly Archives: April 2016

Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how

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This year we can get set for a summer of sport. The Uefa Euro 2016 is up next in June; then it’s the Olympics in Rio in August, punctuated by the annual tournaments such as Wimbledon. So, it’s understandable why so many fans are streaming content via a variety of devices in the home and on the go.

However, sport is not necessarily for all. With the launch of Sky Q, the opportunity for all members of the family to watch what they want, where they want, is an appealing prospect to many. Sky customers already watch 20 per cent of programmes on connected devices – Sky Q and its ‘fluid viewing’ will no doubt appeal to this group and begin to penetrate slowly the 11 million Sky subscribers in the UK.

For those not looking for a contract, there’s always the opportunity that a smart TV – in particular, a Freeview Play-enabled model – offers consumers. Viewing times for Rio 2016 will be unsociable and not necessarily feasible viewing for a wide audience, but catching up over breakfast via an app is an ideal way to keep up to date.

Fans want to see rather than read about those amazing feats that make a major sporting event, such as the Olympics, the spectacle it is, with an estimated 24.2m viewers in the UK and 3.6 billion globally. In 2012, there were 5,600 hours of footage, which aired globally, cross-platform and amassed the equivalent of 801m hours of watched media.

Similarly, the Euro 2012 tournament amassed an average global audience of 150m viewers per match, with 14.2m Brits watching the final.

It’s a fact that 47 per cent of broadband households have a smart TV in the UK and 93 per cent of smart TV owners connect their TVs to the internet (up from 78 per cent in 2013). Furthermore, 37 per cent of TV viewing time on smart TVs is spent watching on-demand content that is only going to grow, as by 2018 it is estimated that 87 per cent of all TVs sold will be smart. Streaming is now the norm and no longer a special feature.

On February 16, BBC Three, the first BBC digital channel, became an online-only channel, provoking a mixed reaction from fans. But is this surprising, when BBC iPlayer saw a 32 per cent year-on-year increase in users using a connected TV to access the service between December 21 and December 31 last year? This is a trend that is set to increase in popularity, making access to iPlayer no longer a luxury, but a necessity through the household TV.

For those avoiding the temptation of making a smart TV purchase or looking to update on a meagre budget, you can do so with a streaming device, such as Google Chromecast, allowing you to stream from your PC, Chromebook or tablet. This allows users to subscribe to Netflix, which now has almost five million recorded subscribers as of December 2015 and cast those box sets, movies, whatever directly to your TV without degrading the quality of picture or sound.

Other devices include the Amazon Fire TV stick and Now TV, with the option to pay for content, as almost 1.7 million people do already in the UK on both platforms. With 4K streaming available from Netflix and BT Sport averaging an extra £4 premium per month to standard HD streaming, competition is becoming fierce, with Amazon and YouTube streaming 4K content at no extra cost.

To some it may seem that content is currently limited, but it is expected to increase, as both studios and platforms commit to a broader 4K offering as an industry standard across streaming services and 4K Blu-ray in 2016.

It is estimated that in 2016 the global share of 4K TVs sold will be 23 per cent, up 35 per cent in the UK as Britons look to future-proof their viewing technology.

With 46 per cent of Brits streaming music, TV or video at least once a week, and online video accounting for 50 per cent of all mobile traffic, it’s no wonder that the popularity of streaming devices is also on the increase.

A UK study released in January identified that seven- to 16-year-olds spend an average of three hours online every day and 2.1 hours of that is watching TV, with 60 per cent watching TV using a device (phone, tablet, or laptop). Of those surveyed, 38 per cent stated that they did most of their viewing on demand.

For retail, there is a huge opportunity to upgrade customers who perhaps have relegated the old LCD to the play room and are looking to go bigger and smarter.

Streaming content is a growth industry and having the freedom to watch when you want is standard, not a luxury. Give customers what they want or haven’t realised they could achieve. Link in-store demos to wi-fi-enabled tablets or similar to bring the concept to life in-situ to complete the customer journey and boost sales.

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A New Reality for Technology Brands

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Tech brands are by definition considered purchases. We consider innovation, functionality, compatibility, design, budget, and brand in equal proportion to reach an informed decision. Marketers are now very adept at targeting tech through branding and marketing in the same manner FMCG brands have done over the decades.

Our emotional attachment towards brands hasn’t changed, but what has are our perceived needs and desires, in which marketers have done an exceptional job in connecting consumers. This is seamlessly accomplished through ATL and into the customer journey from the point of purchase, whether it be an online, traditional retail, or omnichannel approach.

With luxury brands, keeping consumers engaged and invested throughout the customer experience will never change. Technology is just beginning to utilise this, but is in danger of relying too much on it as tech becomes commoditised — something that, by definition, should not happen with luxury brands. Take Burberry as a prime example who salvaged its brand from the brink of commodity, and is changing the fashion industry through innovative technology to appeal to today’s broader audience.

In recent months, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have begun to change the world of technology once again, introducing a new concept to a global audience. Marketers need to again find a way to excite consumers, much like technology marketers have done in the past. As a new category, largely alien to those outside the world of gaming, consumers need to see for themselves how engaging these new experiences and innovations are.

There are, however, worries that VR will draw people too far into the virtual world, much like social media has created FOMO or “fear of missing out.” Marketers need to supplement this excitement by fighting against a stigma that considers tech “unsociable.”

The reality is that, irrespective of budget, a younger audience’s interest in luxury brands is insignificant when searching for the latest technology from VR to AR (as introduced by Mark Zuckerberg) to gaming or social media. It’s about the experiences that these innovations offer to audiences, allowing tech to be adapted into the mainstream as we become hooked on running our energy, education, social life, and even the fridge and heating from one device. The brand that provides that device, irrespective of how, remains important to today’s consumer.

VR and AR brands know that to become mainstream, as PlayStation is cleverly attempting to do, they must lend their use to advertising and marketing. The challenge is immersing the consumer effectively into the VR and AR world, removing itself from any social or health concerns, by creating experiences that are controlled and appeal to a wide demographic. It’s a marketer’s challenge to realise how they can accomplish this. Of all the brands within the VR and AR category, Sony, Microsoft, HTC, and Oculus will come to market as true consumer propositions we can all purchase, but only a few will survive. The victors will pave the way through avoiding the marketing mistakes of others, establishing VR and AR as mainstream consumer categories that will perhaps shape how we interact and enjoy media in the future.

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