October 8, 2012
By Steve Seidmon
Life’s complicated. We hear that a lot. For that matter, we experience it a lot: choosing from among 140 permutations of coffee at Starbucks—in the morning no less. Being overwhelmed by 13 varieties of Cheerios. Deciphering boundless grids displaying health insurance plan options.
And at the top of the list, beating all of these common life complications is technology. For all its good, technology fuels so much consumer anxiety.
It’s a bit like what we hear from the American Medical Association: One day red wine is good for you and the next day it’s not. Such paradoxes are constantly in view with technology. It’s so useful, and yet so frustrating.
Take choosing whether to see this week’s blockbuster movie in 2D, 3D or IMAX—or waiting until it’s out on VOD. Or deciding which mobile phone you should get with which service provider. Then there’s configuring a new TV with all of its myriad connections—and then training yourself about how it all functions.
It’s plain and simple: Life is complicated.
How often do we hear a chorus of consumers intoning, “that was easy?” Not so much. And when we do, it’s seemingly miraculous. In these cases, it works.
Apple. The gold standard for “user-friendly.”
Google. Providing the results you want in the search—without the need to even take the next step.
Amazon. Deriving significant revenue from sellers, who buy Amazon’s ability to sell better than virtually anyone.
We are constantly striving for simplicity—or at least wishing for it.
While recently playing a part in planning the upcoming 2012 CTAM Insights Conference in Orlando, I conceptualized such a world. With my gifted co-chairs Kathy Filosa and Janet Gallent, we knew that we wanted to serve up lessons-learned and tools to help attendees make their lives, and their customers’ lives, a bit more manageable.
It was something of a no-brainer that the theme for the conference would be coping in a “multi” world. We live it every waking minute and we’re challenged by it both personally and professionally.
The “multi”-isms in our lives are abundant. Multitasking. Multi-screen. Multiplatform. Multicultural. Multi-generational. How do we thrive in a media ecosystem that offers more choices and challenges than we could have ever imagined?
So the planning team coalesced around recognizing consumer research that yields clearer results. These are critical needs for researchers and marketers in the next year or two if we’re to make our media world easier for consumers to understand.
1. Neuro Science. Arguably complex and multifaceted, this is a critical wave of newer methodologies that transcend Q&A and people meters to pinpoint which media and messaging consumers actually notice, and how they feel about it.
2. Millennials. Beyond recognizing how these young consumers are unique as a generation, we must also better understand some slices in the Millennial pie, such as Latinos and moms.
3. Second Screen. Consider addressing the pervasive question of whether a TV-centric second screen can be immersive rather than distracting. Are there truly opportunities in “multiplatform multitasking” or are viewers pulled in too many directions?
4. Digital Cannibalization. What insights can we glean about the effects of mobile on TV-based viewing from the most industrious study fielded to date?
5. Happiness. Yes, happiness. We need to be reminded and enlightened about how to cultivate it and how it can increase productivity, especially in this fast-paced, changing industry of ours.
I’m excited by the possibilities that this year’s Insights conference brings to light. The ideas are a springboard for us, as an industry, to collectively learn how to simplify. Cable companies, content providers and technology suppliers desperately need customers to say often and enthusiastically, “Wow. That was easy!”
(Steve Seidmon is President of Seidmon Associates, a media consulting and research company. He also has held executive positions at MTV Networks and Mercer Management. Seidmon is the 2012 Insights Conference co-chair and past member of the CTAM Research Committee. He can be reached at email@example.com.)