The Future of the “Untethered” Consumer – And How It Will Change Marketing

Two significant events occurred this week, and they both profoundly impact marketers.Taking off in a hot air balloon

The first event was a speech given by Jeff Zucker, CNN’s new president, who told a group of conference attendees that mobile was the platform of the future for his news channel.  To me that means CNN sees itself as a news organization rather than a TV channel.  He also announced that CNN would be hiring ‘digital correspondents’.

We’ll see how this impacts news reporting, but it means we marketers and PR professionals need to get ready to look at media relations and how we present our news in a new way.  We will also need to find ways to measure and validate online sources and better define the new world “journalist”.

The second event was a research report just released from the ever-credible Council for Research Excellence (CRE) that gives us a look at the growing number of viewers who are watching TV via their smartphones or other devices.  (I confess to watching on my iPad).

Right now the report says just a small percentage of us are choosing mobile devices over televisions but the report has a strong upward trend and even more importantly is showing a desire by viewers to become untethered.

Untethered – the perfect word for this trend.

Let’s think about this for a minute – it took most of us a while to realize what it really meant to be able to do a great deal of our jobs via a laptop anywhere in the world.  I remember the day it hit me that I could truly roam free and still be very productive – it was not unlike the euphoria you feel in a hot air balloon. As I write this it is the 31st anniversary of my company, and when I began this wonderful journey I had no option other than being in an office and tethered to all things related to running an agency.

Now we are learning that news and entertainment has hard core data, thanks to CRE, that says not only are people starting to turn to mobile devices for movies, TV shows and news, but that the news organizations themselves are hiring reporters to accommodate this trend.

The research also uncovered how many former TV watchers are multi-tasking while watching a show – often they are looking for online commentary on Twitter, or checking to see if Facebook friends are watching too or looking for deeper, behind-the-scenes information about what they are watching.

Predictions!

As marketers we must accommodate this trend; pure and simple.  We must accommodate the needs of digital news gathering reporters, offer consumers more information- on more levels and be prepared for consumers to want access 24/7/365.  And that access may need to be across multiple platforms simultaneously and two-way communication, not just putting it out there, but making it interactive and valuable anytime anywhere.

The TV room in our homes may go the way of travel agencies and video stores as this trend grows.

Tethered dog waiting for a bath

Stay tuned – and the good news is you may be doing your job totally “untethered” – at least to a TV set!

Waiting for a bath, this cute guy is soon to be untethered too!

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