Consumers want greater control over their media. They want it to look great on whatever device they’re using, and they want their media to align with their emotional and physical needs in real-time. Three emerging media spaces are giving consumers this control, and they will change the way we think about consuming print, video, and audio.
For marketers looking for emerging alternatives to print beyond websites and run-of-the-mill status updates, an emerging slate of digital readers are making it easy to view content optimized for smartphones, tablets, and social media.
• Social Magazines: Tablet and smartphone owners are looking for news readers that bring their social feeds, blogs, and mainstream news sources together without the clutter found on most websites. Flipboard and Google Currents solve for that. Flipboard claims that reading sessions on the app are 8 to 10 times longer than those on the Web. Publishers are taking note. For example, Forbes already has over 450,000 Flipboard subscribers and 900,000 Currents subscribers and is looking to expand ad partnerships with both publishers.
• Digital Catalogs: One of the more surprising updates to Apple’s App Store following the new iPad announcement was the creation of a Catalogs section. Google’s Catalogs app also brings old print catalogs to the digital space. Digital catalogs will turn tablets and smartphones into important new e-commerce drivers. Moving beyond apps, Pinterest, Fancy, and other image bookmarking sites are serving as social catalogs, as evidenced by their growing referral traffic.
• Facebook News Readers: A recent Pew Research study found that only 9% of Americans get their news “very often” from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is looking to change that alongside publishers. The Guardian and other traditional news outlets have turned to Facebook apps to increase their audience. Facebook “Frictionless Sharing” makes it easy for users to share what they read across through these apps without having to click share buttons, and publishers are benefitting. Meanwhile, Facebook’s “Interest Lists” make it easy for people to turn Facebook into a news stand.
Ubiquitous Video Players
Online video viewing continues to go up as more people turn to the Internet to get their entertainment. New video players make it easy for brands to broadcast their owned video assets across multiple platforms.
• Social Video Players: ShowYou aggregates videos shared across social networks in a single, easy to use interface for tablet and smartphone owners. This makes it easy for people to filter out everything else that pops up in their social streams and focus on video, potentially increasing visibility for your brand’s online videos. Apps like ShowYou will play a role in mobile video similar to how Flipboard and Currents function for news.
• Leanback Players: YouTube launched Leanback a while back to make it easy for people to view videos on connected TVs and tablets. With the smart TV market highly fragmented across a small, but growing, audience, Web-based leanback players are a compelling alternative to developing apps for every smart TV platform. Cartoon Network developed such an experience for its online video player. The leanback approach more closely mimics TV viewing, making online video advertising a more compelling alternative or complement to TV as the couch experience improves.
• Live Video Players: 2012 is showing that live video is becoming an important part of the marketing mix. The political campaigns for President Obama and Mitt Romney have used Google+ Hangouts and YouTube Live to engage with voters. Coca-Cola is using Hangouts to showcase memorabilia to fans and drive live conversations.
Media creates emotional reactions. Sometimes consumers want media that fits their mood or that will put them in a certain mood. We’ve discussed the potential of the mood graph before, and now the concept is expanding into new areas.
• Mood-based Music: Music has become highly social and interactive. Spotify’s app platform makes it easy to discover music in new ways. Moodagent is an app for Spotify and other devices that lets people generate playlists based on the mood they’re in. The emotional data collected will now drive a new audio advertising partnership between Moodagent and Mixberry Media. Ads will be targeted based on the moods that brands do, or don’t, want to be associated with.
• Mood-based News: Buzzfeed is a social news site that categorizes its content based on the emotional reactions readers have had to an article. The company is moving into specific topic verticals, but the site has been built on the emotional links between users and content. Brands have used the site to advertise against different emotions and even create custom “reactions” for visitors of the site to use on articles.
• Mood-based Ads: This is an emerging space, but brands love to guarantee that their messaging is aligned with a certain emotional state. Mood graphs and emotion analytics provide a new way to do this. Potential applications beyond music and news could be in video, with platforms like Hulu Ad Swap making it easy for viewers to choose their own ads, an emotional cue could provide a new way to build an emotional connection with your audience.
The new media sources give people more control over how they consume news, video, and music, which is a big part of why the above examples are being adopted.
These emerging platforms are changing how consumers discover and interact with media, and they present new opportunities for advertising that complements content instead of interrupting it.
Take a test and learn approach. The audiences for these platforms remain comparatively small to well established traditional and online media alternatives, but brands looking for new approaches to digital marketing will want to explore these emerging spaces in depth.
Simeon Spearman, 03.21.2012