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Consumer Research


Heads up on emerging trends for marketers

Heads up on emerging trends for marketers

The preceding excerpts and commentary have been compiled by the leadership team at UM’s Global Digital Communications Practice.

In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time?

This week, the television upfronts — in which the broadcast networks present their schedules to advertisers — will open with a mystery. Who stole six million viewers? 

That’s the number who were watching prime time television last May, a month affectionately known as “sweeps,” but have disappeared this year, according to the overnight Nielsen ratings.

Each of the major broadcast networks, save for Fox, has seen its audience decline this season. The ratings for hit shows like “American Idol” and “CSI” have approached record lows.

Last Word: The meticulous efforts taken by the Networks to “program” an evening of viewing, including lead-in and lead-out shows is slowly losing its power.  With more and more content available “on demand” through cable and satellite operators, online viewing, and the growing penetration of digital video recorders – consumers are creating their own programming grid, and sometimes aren’t inviting advertisers to the party.

Broadband 2.0 Poised to Reshape Web, TV

The advent of DSL and cable modems gave rise to a slew of popular web services, produced multibillion dollar companies and reshaped consumers' daily lives -- all with relatively wimpy "broadband" connections that top out at a mere 3 to 6 megabits per second (Mbps).

Now two of the largest ISPs in the United States are hoping to kick off yet another broadband renaissance, this time with home connections that promise to reach 50-100 Mbps, enabling a slew of high-definition content, better-quality video-sharing sites and even 3-D video. Call it Broadband 2.0.

Last Word: All broadband is not created equal, and greater bandwidth equals greater brandwidth – the ability to create rich, immersive Brand experiences through high definition sight, sound and motion.  This new era of high speed Internet services will create new marketing opportunities the likes of which we are just starting to realize.

Do-It-Yourself Display Ads May Reshape Online Marketing

Much of the valuable online-ad real estate is sold the old-fashioned way: through a salesperson. But now start-ups and major Internet players such as Facebook Inc. are giving advertisers the option of planning, buying and tracking online-ad campaigns all on their own. Just as the ability to buy plane tickets online steered business away from travel agents, the self-service options promise to shake up the $20 billion online-advertising market.

Last Word: Search drove much of Internet advertising growth over the past five years.  The next 5 years are sure to see display advertising substantially driving the agenda.  The ability for small to mid-sized advertisers to “get in the ad game” through a self-service model will feed that growth.

Additionally, all marketers are looking to developing efficient ways of transacting digital business.  Self-service models and emerging ad marketplaces will help significantly in this area.

The (Virtual) Global Office

It's not always easy to get new employees to mix well with co-workers—especially when they're scattered across the globe or speak different languages. Few companies know this as well as IBM (IBM), the computer services provider that last year alone added 20,000 new staff members, many from Brazil, China, India, and Russia.

Using software from Activeworlds, IBM builds virtual work spaces that let workers in far-flung regions use avatars, or graphic representations of themselves, to handle such tasks as rehearsing presentations or learning about employee benefits.

Last Word: Imagine the savings on overhead.

MySpace: Going Places

MySpace is moving into your space. Users of the social network will soon be able to transport their MySpace profile pages to sites across the Web, including the portal Yahoo! (YHOO), global shopping site eBay (EBAY), and microblogging service Twitter.

"Today, MySpace no longer operates as an autonomous island on the Internet," company co-founder Chris DeWolfe said on a conference call May 8. "Profiles can now be shared across all the sites our users visit."

Last Word: The age of the mega-portal is drawing to a close.  Dispersing content across the web via niche vertical networks, content creators and collaborative networks is becoming standard operating procedure.  Marketers need to acknowledge this trend, and work to re-aggregate their target audiences wherever they may be residing.

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