A media trend watcher connects the dots of emerging trends. Takes note of media catalysts, happenings and decisions that potentially create a larger impact later. Explores the ever-deepening digital landscape, seeing how it forces all media platforms to evolve.
A media trend watcher participates. For example, by conducting market research, observation and media strategy implementation, you are a media trend watcher. By monitoring ratings and usage performance and then relating them to past results, you are media trend watching. Sharing ideas and participating on this Jointblog as well as others with your commentary responses to posts contributes to media trend watching. Drawing inferences from one media insight to conclude something new. Media trend watching reviews the tactics of something newsworthy today and pieces together the long-range strategic direction.
For example, the Jointblog views "truthiness" as a strengthening media trend, which is why we reference The Colbert Report so often. Taking the 30,000 feet view, truthiness truly is the descriptive word of the decade. It applies to politics ("Saddam and weapons of mass destruction with ties to bin Laden", "A heckuva job, Brownie" or "Mission Accomplished"), business (Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, oil price vs executive compensation), entertainment (reality TV is not reality, news teasers during sweeps focusing on fear tactics on matters that really have near-zero likelihood of ever affecting your family) and the Internet itself (the rise of the blogosphere as well as the issues of net neutrality, identity theft, and copyright protection and royalties). As a media trend, if 9/11 killed irony, truthiness certainly filled its void.
There are so many other media trends to watch. Traditional media slow acceptance of the on-demand New Entertainment Economy, unwilling to give up its "push" model of control and ownership, is certainly a strong one. Nearly 50% of Americans now have access to high-speed broadband connection to the Internet, either at home or at work. Americans want stuff fast, easy and at a reasonable price without hassle. They want to choose the content and not have the content chosen for them. They want to pull media; they are tired of having media pushed at them with little or no choice. More and more they resist or simply ignore content -- on radio or TV as well as with other traditional forms of "mass" media -- that doesn't suit their real need. The result for those companies resisting? Smaller reach and frequency of usage, less time listening and viewing, reduced subscriptions, zero or negative word of mouth.
Media trend watching takes items that may seem like a small story and shows the bigger view. One trend I hope takes hold is simplicity. As a society, we are all overwhelmed with too much noise, too much stress, too many expectations. We have decision overload. And yet, so much of what we doing as media professionals is add to the noise, add to the stress, add to the expectations. As much as we try to create solutions, we often present more problems. Because we don't make it easy for the customer. We waste consumer time with useless contests or promotions that add zero value. That aren't fun or compelling. That require we jump through too many hoops. We bombard consumers with advertising that doesn't connect with the reader, the listener, the viewer -- expecting the customer to pay attention. Often, content looks good for advertisers but not for the audience.
In fact, as a media trend, it is the audience or the target consumer base that is often the last component considered for many media plans...if they get truly considered at all. Of course, at least conceptually, they should be the first compontent.
One marketing campaign of the last 5 years that impresses me is the Staples "Easy Button" campaign. After 15 years of growth, Staples began to realize their customers were getting more and more dissatisfied. Finding the items they needed while shopping was difficult. Customer service provided no help at all. Staples was in danger with losing their base and revenues were dropping. After honest reflection, they saw opportunity in their crisis: make it easy for their customers. Don't make it complicated. Get rid of the distractions and useless products that their business supply customers never needed in the first place. Retrain their customer service sales people to actually help, directing shoppers to the exact correct aisle and shelf location for the products they sought. Once they fixed their operations, they then marketed something that rang true: The Simple Button. Press the button and voila, it's done. Easy and simple. That's the Staples experience now. They listened to their customers and changed their ways to meet the demand in a new competitive environment.
The campaign launched 3 three years ago and immediately propelled Staples to new growth, strongly outgaining their competitors in revenue, profit and share. It even created strong positive word of mouth...including the crazy demand from customers actually wanting to buy Easy Buttons for their own desktops at work. Staples quickly responded and made them available for sale, generating charity contributions of $1 million a year.
Just some of the media trends we are watching. Are you a media trend watcher? Write to us. We welcome your participation...just add your comments to our posts or forward us your own observations. We thank you for media trend watching with us.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, June 19, 2006,