Imagine how Norman Rockwell might paint the modern American living room. A family gathers around a 48-inch LCD TV that dominates the room. Far gone are the days of radio, and instead, the TV plays a movie downloaded from iTunes, or streams a Netflix original series, commercial free. Rather than reading a newspaper or magazine, Mom is on her iPad browsing shopping sites and recipe ideas on Pintrest. Daughter is texting on her smartphone and posting pictures on Facebook. Dad is on his work laptop answering emails. The family dog? That might be the only thing in this 2013 scene reminiscent of Rockwell's day.
Modern consumers no longer fit the mold advertisers once came to expect as audiences become more and more fragmented. Today, brands don’t have the luxury of betting on a single device or primetime TV show to capture the attention of an entire family unit. Rather than absorbing the same information at the same time in generally the same manner, today's consumers enjoy the autonomy of choosing how, where and when they choose to access information, and this massive shift appears to be a trend that is here to stay.
Take TV, for example. In the last few years, consumer prime-time viewing behavior has dramatically changed. From 2008-2012, live TV viewership dropped a whopping 19% - a considerably different pattern compared to the 1% flux witnessed the 4 years prior. Even more jolting, is the 7% jump in streaming TV viewership, a platform not yet on the board in 2008. These numbers suggest traditional TV models may soon be relegated to Rockwell’s paintings, and with Smartphone and tablet sales similarly outpacing traditional desktops, the demise of PCs may not be far behind.
We’re reaching tipping points faster than ever before. This speed of change is unlike any media pattern we’ve seen before. In 2002, mobile phone usage surpassed landlines– usurping 125 years of telephone history within the 20 years of cell phones first appearing on the scene. Following suite, in 2012, time spent on social networking sites surpassed time spent on portals. Forget Rockwell - suddenly, the world we knew in the 90s is outdated.
All this directly correlates to the explosion of devices we use, and how we use them. While this presents brands with a golden opportunity, it also presents them with their greatest challenge. How does a brand capture a consumer’s attention, and then convert that interest into offline sales?
With these rapid changes in behavior, advertisers are still playing catch up, and it shows in massively misallocated ad spend budget. Specifically, brands are under spending on mobile and online, and they missing opportunities to speak to consumers as they move away from traditional media.
After all, families are still gathering in living rooms. They are sharing news about school, work and the day’s events just as they did before, but now, these conversations are interspersed with the retelling of a YouTube video or interesting Facebook post. Brands have more opportunities than ever to be a part of this dialogue, in a more personal and meaningful way, but first they must adapt to the shifting dynamic of the modern consumer.