The Connected Consumer: A Transformational Time
The panel were asked to give a view on who is leading who in the connected world as MediaTel Group's Connected Consumer event opened on Monday.
Mark Cross, senior partner at Equal (see James Whitmore's amusing take on this tautology!) described this as a "transformational time", but warned that it was not just behaviour but the drivers behind behaviour that we need to understand.. "and we need to know more about what connection means."
Anna Bateson, marketing director for media and platforms, EMEA at YouTube, felt that the launch of YouView could prove fundamental to how consumers connect with connected TVs, but she felt that technology was not moving fast enough. "We need to simplify this... voice search could be transformational." Clearly the thinking was that the smart TV is not very smart unless the user decides to go beyond basic programme selection. With voice controls there may be some encouragement.. and some mayhem!
Bateson added that YouTube's own strategy was more about UI than content, and she pointed to the power of suggestion and recommendations - so we can expect to see even more of that on the YouTube channel platforms.
Dan Saunders, head of content services at Samsung, had a different phrase for the next stage of development, predicting that we would see "context aware devices" soon, but he recognised that there is much still to do in the consumer electronics world.
Michael Bayler, strategist and author, had a slightly different take. He reckoned technology and media opportunities were "streets ahead of the consumer for a change. The consumer doesn't really care a lot about what we have to offer. As a consequence advertising take up of these new possibilities remained "in the foothills" (witness spend on mobile compared with usage).
"Until advertisers see the consumer connecting with the big TV there won't be much spend." And he reminded the audience that TV remains mostly about brand advertising.
Bateson summed it all up succinctly. "We are lacking all the smartness coming together. Technical capability and commercial viability are currently a long way apart.".