This article is part of our July series about the state of media and entertainment. Click here for more.
From Facebook Messenger to smart TVs to voice platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, digital technology has created many choices for how people find, consume, and share content.
The pressure is on for brands that want to meet their customers wherever they are. And they are everywhere. They are proficient with digital technology and demanding superior experiences across all touch points—including emerging channels and platforms.
But while some technologies, such as virtual reality, is certainly making a splash, it is still the early days from a consumer adoption standpoint. To date, the majority of consumers are still relying on more traditional digital channels, such as email, social media, and mobile apps, for their content needs.
Below we take a look at the seven most immediate content consumption trends digital leaders need to be thinking about as we head toward 2019.
1. People Are Checking Email Less
In an effort to achieve better work-life balance, more consumers are holding off on checking email until they get to work and are declaring a moratorium on checking email after work. That’s according to an Adobe survey, which found people spent 27% less time checking email in 2017 versus 2016.
But just because they use email less doesn’t mean they don’t like it, especially for consuming marketing messages. Some 61% of people in the survey said they’d prefer to get messages via email rather than alternatives such as direct mail, a brand’s mobile app, and social media.
“Every time we look at marketing channels for driving any audience to any kind of outlet, whether it’s retail or video, we see [email] continue to be strong,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Insights (ADI).
He’s not the only fan. Email offers the best ROI of any marketing channel and the lowest cost-per-acquisition at $10.32, per the Data & Marketing Association.
2. Young People Are Tuning Out Facebook, But Not Instagram
In its Q2 earnings, Facebook reported that it had 1.47 billion daily active users (short of its projected 1.48 billion). The company’s user base in the U.S. is also shedding its youth: A recent Pew Research Center survey indicated that 51% of teens 13 to 17 years old said they used Facebook, down 20% from a similar survey in 2014 to 2015. But 72% of those teens, who represent Generation Z, said they were on the Facebook-owned Instagram.
The shift suggests how younger users are favoring newer and more visual communications platforms, better aligning with how they communicate, according to eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco. Understanding their preferences is a huge deal, considering Gen Z is on track to become the largest generation of consumers and already accounts for $143 billion in buying power–not including the influence they have on household spending, according to Joe Cardador, PhD, VP of consumer intelligence at Barkley.
3. More Older Americans Are Getting Their News From Mobile
There are some interesting trends among older adults as well. Pew Research found 67% of consumers over 65 now get their news on a mobile device. That’s up 24% from 2016 and is three times the share in 2013. At the same time, some 79% of those 50 to 64 now get news on mobile, which is double the share from 2013. Deloitte also discovered that when it came to device ownership, the strongest growth was among consumers 55 and older.
4. Smart Speakers Are Making Themselves Heard
With a compound annual growth rate of 47.9%, smart speakers are the fastest-growing tech product since the smartphone. By 2022, 55% of U.S. households will have at least one smart speaker in their home, according to Juniper Research. As of this writing, the figure is around 20% or 47.3 million. For comparison’s sake, it took 13 years for TV to reach the 50 million mark.
Looking ahead, smart speakers are poised to become smarter, with the ability to handle more complex lines of questioning (“Can you recommend a different coffee place that’s on the way to work this morning?”) and even make calls and appointments on a consumer’s behalf.
5. Cord Cutting Is Occurring Faster Than Previously Thought
Some 50 million people are expected to drop their cable or satellite subscriptions by 2021, according to eMarketer. That's 10 million more than the researcher had previously estimated. Cord cutting makes increasing sense as more programming becomes available in this format and as original programming from Neflix, Hulu, and Amazon achieves parity with network TV content. Research also shows consumers save $85 a month by cutting the cord.
6. Yet Consumers Still Prefer Live Programming Delivered On A TV Set
The World Cup broke broadcast viewing records for England and Croatia–two countries that made it into the semi-finals and finals, respectively. Comparatively, some 10% to 20% of viewing took place online. That’s about the same as standard viewing and possibly lower. When you take into account public viewing in bars and restaurants, the World Cup was a triumph of the notion that consumers still prefer to gather around the TV set for big, live events.
7. Augmented Reality Will Grow—Fast
According to a report from Digi-Capital, augmented reality will become part of the mainstream significantly faster than previously anticipated. AR (both mobile AR and smartglasses) could reach $85 billion to $90 billion by 2022.
That growth will be driven by the wide distribution of standardized platforms and APIs for AR via Apple’s ARKit for iPhones and Google’s ARCore for Android devices.
It’s no surprise that more attention is being paid to the content that can be consumed on those devices. In June, Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company) announced a collaboration with Apple and Pixar on the “usdz” AR file format, which will be supported by Creative Cloud Apps and Services, enabling Photoshop users to tweak and modify AR imagery.
And according to Andy Yost, CMO at USA Today Network and Gannett, AR is the “next evolution, expanding upon video’s success, for both consumers and for advertisers looking for interactive platforms as a new way to connect with consumers.”