Keeping Up With Evolving Audience Behaviors_Harden Partners Blog

Keeping Up With Evolving Audience Behaviors

PyeongChang, South Korea will step into the spotlight as host of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games. Millions will watch in awe as the world’s top athletes compete in snow and ice sports and North and South Korea march under one flag and take a public step toward reconciliation. Eyes will be peeled to see how Russian athletes fare as they compete for medals under the giant “Olympic Athlete from Russia” asterisk in light of the state-supported doping scandal.

And, for the first time, we will get to see every bit of the 17 days, 15 sports and 102 events unfold LIVE!Through a variety of NBC broadcast and digital outlets, a total of 1,800 hours of coverage will be streamable live from any computer, mobile device, or connected TV.

The switch to live coverage is NBC’s direct response to how viewing habits have changed. Gone are the days of traditional scheduled programming. In the Netflix and Apple TV media landscape, audiences have proven they will no longer wait a week, a day, or even an hour, for their favorite show to air. Not even for the international institution that is the Olympics. Modern viewers don’t turn on the TV to “see what’s on” or channel-surf anymore. Watching TV now means making a deliberate choice of exactly which content we want to consume.

But, NBC is not just putting it all out there for the viewer ratings. They’re baiting the hook to catch more paying customers. NBC will air 30 minutes of free coverage before requiring viewers to become an “authenticated pay TV subscriber” to keep watching.

Now is a great opportunity to apply NBC’s model for rethinking how audiences receive and engage with media to your communications program as you re-envision and improve upon last year’s initiatives.

Evaluate your customers’ behaviors and how they have changed. Are they using new channels or abandoning old ones? Can you create and distribute more video content? What fresh content topics are your audiences interested in this year? How can you better utilize your content to capture leads? How can you increase meaningful engagement with your audiences on social media in 2018?

It may sound simple, but revisiting HOW your audience consumes and engages with your content may reveal small adjustments that will drastically improve the efficacy of your communications program.

For example, video content made up 74% of internet traffic last year, and is expected to grow to 80% by 2020. Of the videos watched last year, 51% of those were viewed on mobile devices and 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound.

Does your marketing mix include an appropriate ratio of written and visual media? Are your videos properly optimized for mobile viewing? Simply adding unique thumbnails can entice views. Including subtitles makes your video more digestible for the majority of viewers watching without sound–especially if your audience is engaging with your videos on social media. Maybe gating some videos behind a request for user information (like NBC is doing to capture new subscribers) makes sense to generate leads.

If you are dedicating significant resources to creating and sharing content on your corporate Twitter or Facebook accounts and you are not seeing any meaningful engagement or bumps in followers, it might make sense to revisit why you started those accounts in the first place. If your audience is not active on those channels or they do not use those channels to make purchasing decisions, no amount of time and energy devoted to content development and optimization will make your efforts fruitful. Instead, divert your attention to fortifying more strategic and performing channels or consider a targeted ad campaign with a trade publication. Refocus on your core market and capitalize on opportunities that directly reach them in the places where they are paying attention.

One thing we know for sure is that the way we consume media has changed and will continue to change. Keeping up with your specific audiences’ preferences and viewing habits is essential to staying relevant and making sure your messages are being received and not ignored.