Consumer intelligence series

Transitional business models — Monetizing content effectively in an ever-changing media landscape

Consumer discovery sessions and online discussions conducted in June 2009

As part of our global consumer research program, PwC's Entertainment, Media, and Communications practice is conducting a series of consumer discovery sessions to elicit candid feedback and gain new understanding of consumer attitudes and behaviors in a rapidly changing media landscape. This research combines facilitated online community discussions with face-to-face consumer discovery sessions. This integrated approach yields powerful business insights that help our clients identify and capitalize on emerging trends.

This report summarizes learnings from facilitated discussions with kids ages 18 to 24.

  • Ideal world of advertising: It’s all about what’s in it for me.

    1. Limited in frequency and duration: Ads might be might be book-ended before and/or after the content they are enjoying, as on Hulu. Many like the idea of one sponsor per program. The ads are short and the consumer is not forced to endure long breaks, which can bore them and tend to prompt them to ignore the ads altogether.
    2. Better integrated and less interruptive: The ads fit with the programming, like sports products in sports programming, and they coexist more seamlessly — and don’t stop the flow of enjoyment with the content, such as product placement in shows.
    3. Custom tailored: Ads for products and services relate to one’s specific lifestyle and interests, like consumers have experienced with the Facebook model. (“It’s related to you — I like that. It gets you. You want to click on it.”)
    4. Informative and useful: Ads explain or teach you about products and services — especially new things. Consumers are looking for more substance and less fluff and say informative advertising adds value. An honest and straightforward message (and one that is not confusing) has greatest credibility. (“If you can’t get the meaning of the advertisement, then it’s useless!”)
    5. Memorable and entertaining: Amid the clutter, consumers like ads that they remember as being funny, entertaining, unique, and/ or innovative. They find these ads more relatable and enjoyable, and so they also add value.
    6. Genuine and real: Gen Y consumers seek a direct, honest approach. They prefer a straightforward tone and transparency in message. Testimonials by real people can be more credible than celebrity endorsements, unless there is a celebrity expertise related to the products. Fine print, sped-up voiceover copy, and disparagement of competitors are generally frowned upon and can impinge credibility.
    7. Chosen freely: There is an interest in having the ability to select or even vote on the specific advertising executions to which one is exposed. This would make for a more interactive and engaging viewer experience because viewers could watch their favorite ads and conversely avoid ones they don’t like.

  • Addressable advertising: Personalize but don’t one-dimensionalize me!

    1. More engaging and helpful: For most, it makes the advertising message more relevant and so “less annoying” (“I don’t want to see female products if I’m a male.”) and even useful to the extent it reminds them of products/services they need.
    2. But not too limited: Consumers strongly object to being targeted only for messages that reflect their current personal interests and proclivities, since they feel they might be missing out on products, services, or information about which they might develop a new interest.
    3. And don’t expect me to do too much: The onus cannot be on consumers to do too much in the way of actively providing information about personal interests. They expect advertisers to determine their interests based on their (online, cable TV) current behaviors.

  • Scanning technology (2D bar codes) as interactive media: Great if it means something EXTRA for me!

    1. Feeling empowered: Consumers like the sense of being in control of the purchase process with this technology; they can retain the information and store it for future reference when they’re ready to act. In fact, some are already familiar with this capability on Google’s G1. The potential pervasiveness of the 2D bar codes (for example, on movie posters, books, and boarding passes) and myriad applications are captivating and fit in with this target’s mobile lifestyle.
    2. Adding value: The element of true innovation accorded this technology becomes evident only if it provides something MORE from the product/service than what is currently available, such as extra discounts or extra benefits.
    3. Some privacy concerns: The only slightly voiced concern was relative to where information scanned into consumers’ phones was going if it at all merged with their personal data (e.g., contact lists, photos, etc.), and was sent somewhere unknown to them.

  • Piracy perceptions in online media content: It’s there for me to take!

    1. Downright stealing: For some, it was considered wrong. They acknowledged that it was, in fact, stealing — something they used to do when they were younger with less money, when they didn’t know any better, but don’t do anymore.
    2. Probably wrong, but … oh well: For others, even though it was acknowledged that it likely wasn’t the right thing to do, there was little remorse about it (“I don’t feel morally bad about it.”) and no indication that behavior will change any time soon.
    3. The norm — mine if it’s on the Net: There is a general attitude that piracy — while not technically legal — is basically justified since it has simply become the norm. The consumers admit that fundamentally it is theft, but they feel OK about it since everyone else is doing it as well. (“We live in an age where the definition is changing.”). In fact, some feel a sense of entitlement to whatever is available on the Internet. This age group seems to have staked a claim in the contents of the Internet — it is rightfully theirs if it is online. (“Don’t put it on the Internet if you can’t [aren’t supposed to] access it.”) One consumer captures this sentiment succinctly: “It’s there for me to take, so why should I not take it?”


  • Ideal advertising
    1. Being engaging means a message that is interesting, informative, and delivered in an entertaining and innovative way about a product or service that is inherently relevant. The delivery of this message should be consistent — integrated — with the type of programming they are watching as opposed to being interruptive and, therefore, annoying.
    2. Being relevant means understanding the personal needs of the consumer and targeting advertising for products and services aimed at their interests. Consumers value communication that is targeted and succinct and delivers a straightforward, informative message — “practical and useful.”
    3. Being limited in frequency, duration, and intrusiveness means making ad messages as short and noninterruptive as possible.


  • Addressable advertising
    1. Target based on personal behaviors and interests: The Facebook model (as well as is an acceptable and mostly effective way for advertisers to target and communicate with consumers and halos positively to the advertiser.
    2. Include tangential and new interests, too: There is also the opportunity to continue to target consumers with messages for products/services that may coincide with their interests or the interests of their peers, as well as introduce them to new areas of potential interests.


  • Scanning technology (2D bar codes)
    1. Consumers are comfortable and ready: Consumers are set to engage in this type of media and technology interaction — it is a very interesting concept for them. The idea of using their cell phones for multiple functions (such as taking a picture) is very familiar.
    2. Advertisers can build brand image and consumer relationships:Companies pioneering this technology in their respective categories — providing incremental benefits accompanying the use of scanning — can foster a more “high-tech” persona and long-term communication relationship with consumers.


  • Piracy
    1. The Internet is perceived as free: Consumers feel they have a right to everything on the Internet and are used to having free access to a wide array of entertainment, information, and services.
    2. Need to change consumer perceptions by adding value to paid content: Curtailing piracy behavior — which has become a widely accepted consumer norm — is not about attempting to shift values and morals. Instead, it is about creating a higher sense of value/quality associated with paid content that cannot be obtained via piracy (for example, advice, interviews, venue/celebrity access, upfront ticketing opportunities, coupons, promotions, offers, movie passes, etc.).