To boldly go, where no content has gone before

Last month it was announced that scientists are set to launch a smart phone into space in its very own 4kg space ship attached to a rather larger rocket. The chosen "cosmobilenaut" will be an Android devise, in a win for Google over Apple. The team from University of Surrey is determining whether off-the-shelf technology can operate in the harsh environment of space. If the mission proves successful it is thought that the smartphone could dramatically cut the cost of future space travel, with phone chips being used to control satellites, providing a much cheaper alternative to the customised, and thus expensive, electronics currently employed.

Whilst the mission seems pie in the sky, it does actually have implications for us mere mortals in the world of content. With the launch of Virgin Galactic drawing ever closer, the 390 Galactic astronauts could potentially be accompanied by their tablets and smartphones, meaning that for brands there is the opportunity to engage customers both in this World and beyond. The mind boggles as to the content that could be produced to aid the discerning space traveller! One for the next brainstorm...

Whilst slightly more pedestrian in nature, but not in scale, Apple also recently passed its 10th billion app download milestone - which equates to 1.4 downloads for every single person in the World. Clearly this shows both the penetration of Apple and the appetite for content. The exponential growth of downloads can be in part explained by the growing reliance on screens in everyday life. I now have an app, for example, that tells me which tube carriage to get on to be nearest the exit to save me time at the end of my journey. This reliance means that consumers are increasingly remaining switched on, on the go.

A quick survey on the train this morning saw 38 of the 53 people in my carriage interacting with a smart phone or tablet. Whilst once the journey to work might have been a quiet, albeit squashed, time to reflect on the day ahead, or an opportunity to read the paper, it is now, for many, a continuous pursuit of knowledge. Time is no longer money, but information.

Another report out this week showed that children are spending more time with screens a day than the amount of exercise taken a week, drawing a conclusion that screens have become the new babysitter. This is not for us to judge, but in general, the adult world is no different. People are increasingly turning to screens to entertain them and assist them in managing their life. Consequently, the opportunity for brands is significant. The consumer is proactively pulling content and will consume what is relevant, engaging and entertaining - no matter the source. A marketer's job has therefore evolved. The old push adage right message, right channel, right time has moved on.

Today a crucial part of the marketing role is to ensure that the brand is represented through content in the right format, across the right channel, at precisely the right time, ready to be pulled by the customer. Content is king, but the customer wears the crown and ensuring your brand can offer them the information and engagement they require, when they require it will be the key challenge moving forward.

Posted in
2ndFeb 2011

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