We all have direct experience of the huge increase in mobility. Yet there are also massive and growing barriers to mobility that we cannot ignore – traffic jams, overfilled public transport, infrastructure that is generally strained to the limits by a growing number of people ‘on the go’. We live our lives today at a pace that is so much faster than 20 or 30 years ago, and the demand for (and expectation of) constant accessibility is being pushed to extremes. The times when our big cities slept at night are long gone – life today is 24/7. The increasingly dynamic and flexible organization of working hours demands equally flexible opening hours for stores. Longer and more often is the general tendency. Filling stations, airports and rail stations are increasingly important as shopping venues, a trend that is set to continue in the future.
Digital media permeate and network our daily lives, both professional and private. They entertain and distract us, and they keep us informed about all aspects of life. The increasing convergence and ubiquity of the digital media are leading to new forms of social communication, participation and organization that are almost impossible to resist. Digital is not a medium as such; it permeates and influences all the media. Augmented reality is no longer the future, it is already being deployed successfully in out-of-home advertising. QR codes are not simply a workaround, and smartphones can do more than just banner ads.
Explosion of channels
First came the mass media, now we have masses of media. With the increasing fragmentation of media channels and target groups, the art of effective media planning today consists in aggregating the myriad channels in such a way as to obtain effective reach, and orchestrating them so that a consistent message is communicated at all touchpoints. But one thing has remained unchanged in the digitized, fragmenting media world: the need to have a strong brand. Brands offer orientation, convey emotions and create identity. Out-of-home advertising reaches the fragmented target groups and also low-level consumers of other media (e.g. people who watch little TV). In that sense, it is the last remaining mass media.
Perforation of media usage
Up until recently, the general rule was that radio was the medium of the early morning: breakfast and the drive to work were radio prime time. Evenings between 7 and 11 pm are still the preserve of television. But now laptops, tablets and smartphones have begun to creep into people’s media usage, and in certain target groups the shift is a major one. Parallel to the explosion in smartphone usage during the morning, tablet PCs are putting great pressure on radio and newspapers. At the same time, heavy early-evening use of the iPad, the medium to snuggle down and relax with, is posing a big challenge to television. Tablets represent a huge shift in media consumption patterns. They are increasingly taking on the role of leisure and consumer devices.
Distraction and focus
One of the most important future trends will be the increasing split between distraction and focus media. Young users in particular expect diversion. Many of them find it more and more difficult to concentrate on one thing. They let content wash over them and enjoy the background noise of the media. They take a look at what is on offer, surf a little here, zap a little there, chat and post. All with a latent feeling of boredom. Media that feed this need for a constant stream of distractions could be termed distraction media. This does not mean that such media are used only by uneducated target groups – atomic physicists enjoy switching off like everyone else. Travel time is the ideal situation for using distraction media. Here, again, the megatrend towards greater mobility is driving the development of distraction media. The reason is simply that people are often on the move and seek distraction. Advertising that targets such situations needs to turn up the ‘volume’ to get attention and it has to offer entertainment or relevance (or both).
Given the general noise level and ubiquity of the media, a parallel trend is the growing need finally to get into something again and focus on it. In contrast to consumers of the distraction media, users know what they want to get into and they are ready to invest money (!) as well as time. In this situation users will immerse themselves completely in the medium, almost blocking out the outside world – cinema, a favourite magazine, books and specialized media (whether analogue or digital). Such “slow” media with premium content are the opposing pole, a sanctuary from the age of the 140-character message. These premium media with premium content go into depth, rather than staying on the surface. The necessary condition: concentration and time. The advertising business has to be clearer that users should not only get content, they should also pay attention. Advertisers need to understand the added value that this kind of use can offer.
Die Zukunft der Medien, Zukunftsinstitut 2013
Zukunftsletter, June 2013
Blink by Mediacom No. 4–5 2012/2013
The Future of Out-of-Home Media – Kinetic 2012