Media consumption behaviours: trends that will influence how you engage customers

This year has seen the pace of change in the media industry continue to accelerate with the introduction of new Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services to the local market, the release of innovative content publishing capabilities on social networks, increased adoption of ad-blocking software and continuation of the long-running battle that newspapers and magazines face against sliding subscription numbers in the digital age. Consumers’ media consumption habits are shifting in response to these changes, and understanding consumption preferences is becoming increasingly important for Media organisations as they attempt to capture and maintain audiences in an environment facing such fundamental changes.

Particularly as the world of digital content continues to evolve, organisations’ strategies will need to consider how consumer behaviours influence what platforms they use to deliver content, what advertising and other revenue models they adopt and what cross-industry partnerships they pursue in order to build competitive advantage.

This year, we have seen three key themes emerge around media consumption behaviours that will influence these decisions:

  • Consumers are maintaining a balanced digital diet, while they are embracing digital content consumers have not entirely forgone non-digital media
  • The broadening of the social ecosystem that we interact with in our day-to-day lives and use to discover and consume content and engage with businesses
  • Consumers’ increasing familiarity with and preference for new monthly, pay/cancel as you go, low-cost subscriptions across multiple forms of entertainment

Access the full set of media consumption insights and further detail on the themes above in the full Media Consumer Survey here.

Maintaining a ‘balanced’ digital diet

Consumers have been eagerly adopting digital media but this does not mean that once they pass the point where digital methods and means of consumption are mainstream or preferred by the majority, they totally forgo their offline lives and non-digital behaviours. This balance is manifest in the equal pegging that using the internet and watching TV have as our top entertainment preference, with 60% of our survey respondents ranking these jointly in their top three entertainment activities. We have also seen a renaissance this year of activities that are largely offline (live performances, listening to the music) or in the case of reading, a mixture of the digital and non-digital, all of which have increased in popularity this year. This on and offline, or traditional and digital mix is also evident in our methods of content discovery. In an environment of seemingly endless choice, we mix the established methods of TV advertising or indeed the broadcast schedule itself with social networks and platform-generated recommendations.

Figure 1 – Our preferred consumption (based on top 3 preferences)

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Social at the centre

This year we have seen social establish itself at the heart of everything we do – augmenting our on- and offline lives and integral to many of our modern media consumption habits. The proportion of survey respondents engaging with social media daily has increased from 27% in 2013 to 59% this year. This growth has seen networks morph into platforms and platforms into ecosystems – through which we consume news, connect with friends and family, broadcast ourselves, contribute to the debate and much more.

Figure 2 – Social media adoption

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The influence of social advertising is increasing faster than other media (with the exception of video) and as consumers we are becoming more engaged with social channels as a route for discovery of entertainment and news content.

This raises the question of ‘what should be considered news on social these days?’ Rather than the usual domain of funny baby and animal videos, the emergence of publishing in a social context feels like a contemporary newsstand and may just yet offer a viable revenue model for platforms and publishers alike.

Subscribing to the Future

We have also seen consumers embracing all things subscription this year – or that as consumers we are increasingly comfortable with pay-as-you-go and rental models of consumption. Undoubtedly heralded by retail telco plans over recent years, these have paved the way for, and educated us in, monthly, low-cost subscriptions across multiple forms of media and entertainment. Free music streaming services have introduced premium subscription models, SVOD services have launched in our market this year and pay TV subscriptions have held firm with the introduction of lower cost channel packages. Twelve per cent of respondents stated that they owned an SVOD subscription, although we believe our survey, fielded after the launch of Presto TV and Stan, and during the launch of Netflix, likely understates the extent of user exploration and experimentation with these services. The low price points support the ownership of multiple services and consumers will, in the year ahead, work out what they actually use, what they value and which services they will retain.

In news too, the subscription story has played out further – we have seen a slight (and a so far ‘one off’) increase in our willingness to pay for news (from 8% of respondents last year to 11% this year) – perhaps we are getting used to paying for content more broadly, which has been encouraged by publishers offering up innovative bundles to both entice and retain customers.

Figure 3 – Subscription ownership

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Conclusion

Understanding consumer preferences for engaging with content is critical not just for media, telco and tech companies, but for any organization interacting with consumers in the digital age. Australian consumers are taking control of how they choose to consume media – enabled by digital access to non-linear content, the emergence of numerous platforms for accessing content such as SVOD services, social media publishing and content aggregators and the provision of expansive content libraries with user-enabled curation. As a result organisations are less able to dictate the terms on which consumers engage with content and their ability to address consumer preferences becomes increasingly more critical.

To learn more about how Australian consumers are interacting with and consuming different media and entertainment access the full Media Consumer Survey here.