August 14, 2014

Confusing Gadgetry With Behavior

Today's post is a follow-on to a post from a couple of weeks ago called "Technology And Consumer Behavior"

When I was a kid, I wore jeans.

Now that I'm a thousand years old, I still wear jeans.

I don't know how the jeans got to the store when I was a kid. Probably some guy went and picked them up at a warehouse. I don't know how they get to the store now. Probably some computer controlled hypersonic drone.

I don't really care. As long as the store can sell me jeans, I don't much care how they get there.

The point is, for the most part, people don't care about delivery systems. They want what they want when they want it. How it gets there is irrelevant.

For example, they want to sit back and be entertained by video. They don't care if the signal comes through the air, or a cable, or the web, or a DVR. Ask them what they're doing and they say the same thing: watching television.

What I'm getting at here is that for over a decade the marketing industry has been confused. They've confused media technology with consumer behavior.

Even though there's been a revolution in media, technology, and communication, consumer behavior has remained surprisingly stable. Of course, there have been some big changes. But a lot of what has changed are the gadgets, not the behaviors.

Consumers are still watching TV for a record amount of time. No one predicted this (okay, maybe one guy did.)

Confusing technology and behavior is nothing new.

Many years ago I was pitching an account. It was around the time that cable TV was becoming an important media factor. At the final pitch, the client ceo said, "We're looking for an agency that really understands cable."

"What's there to understand?" I said. "The signal comes through a wire instead of the air. So what?"

Needless to say, we didn't get the account.


Sell! Sell! said...

Spot-on Bob.

Samuel Scott said...

Bob, perhaps a better response to the CEO would have been something like, "Cable TV allows for better niche-targeting with its specialized channels more so than broadcast TV channels, which serve general, mass audiences"?

Mark Hill said...

Very insightful.

Sceptic said...

I'm not sure I agree. In the UK we have 4 TV options. Freeview, Paid TV (Sky, Virgin Media) , Free online services (BBC iPlayer), and Paid Online services - Netflix/Amazon. There's nothing worth watching on Freeview. The Full Sky package is c$150 a month, so I largely watch Netflix at $10 a month. Guess what I don't get interrupted with every 10 minutes on Netflix and BBC iPlayer? I'm still to all intents and purposes just 'watching TV', but because of the method of delivery and technology, I don't get served advertising. This surely has big implications for TV advertising?

Kate Richardson said...

Yeah but has your behaviour really changed that much? It's still TV you're watching. Just without the ads.

SAGN said...

For every one of you there are an awful lot more people not like you, by several thousand to one. You don't build reach, they do. The empirical work of Binet, Field, the IPA Databank, Prof Sharp and the whole of the Ehrenberg Bass Inst. shows how much more valuable they are than you. Sorry.

Stephen Eichenbaum said...

I just gave a similar answer when asked about "digital media" for a pitch.
It wasn't nearly as honest as your answer. I didn't get the account either.
As sarcastic as i am, i don't believe anyone wants to hear the truth about consumer behavior. They want to hear a bunch of comforting double-speak
about how amazing the New media are. And what experts your agency has become at optimizing them.