Where to watch …. an ACB perspective.

October 9th, 2014

We are still some way from UHD viewing becoming widespread and whilst we wait for the industry to truly catch up to seize the imagination of the viewer, there is still some work needed to get the in-home viewing experience of the UHD viewer spot on…
Similarly, wearables have been tipped to be the next big trend in technology, with Deloitte predicting by the end of the year sales in smart watches, wrist watches and wristbands could reach 10 million units and generate £3 billion in revenue. So it seems that much of the wave of smart devices may not hit the market until early 2015.
Whilst future technology is always exciting and makes the headlines, what is most exciting is the rapid change and behavioural evolution around the relatively new technology.
So my argument today is to pause for thought around the mobile and work to better understand trust of the cloud and how that impacts audience behaviour on the TV.
The relatively new technology:

It is essential for the industry to keep a close understanding of behaviours and build on these learnings – developing thought and understanding over time, monitoring behaviours around the relatively new technology super closely to understand new emerging behaviours and their impact on other more embedded behaviours.

So, whilst ACB at Future zone last year demo’d evidence that showed the innocence of a child of three years routinely using and preferring two screens at the same time – both her own choice and we saw her struggle under the pressure of her parent to decide which one to turn off. Importantly for that child – both choices represented favoured viewing experiences and both fitted the child’s mood and demonstrated in a very simple way how we across demographics are in front of the tv for a roughly a quarter of the time consuming and enjoying as much as possible from multiple devices.
Fast forward 20 months on from ACB’s capture of this behaviour to August, 2014 and Ofcom released a quant study that found that very young children were familiar with smart devices sometimes before they could talk – a digital quotient was used to assess the savviness of children (self-confidence and awareness) and their mobiles, the BB and the apps.
Last month (September 2014)  bought  GSMA’s predictions that smart phone adoption will increase worldwide by 3 times, and back home in the UK almost 2/3 adults have smart phones with penetration saturated by 2018.
ACB and the reader will know that we are emotionally attached (as with other devices) and those that do own smartphones tend to incorporate their use quite centrally in their daily routine, with a third of them looking at their smartphone within the first 5 minutes of the day, and then checking them regularly throughout the day (Deloitte – September 2014) . In phase 6 we (ACB LLP) included younger women in our broad demographic and measured the actual number of times they checked their Facebook and the length of time they spent on the site – Kirsty (24) checks Facebook nine times in the morning for an average of 28 seconds and then in the afternoon ten times for an average of two minutes and less so in the evening – 3 times but still for an average of two minutes. This is the demographic that is of interest to ACB as we might assert the future female is what the industry needs to focus on understanding a little more and try to avoid patronising please…
But I digress, as I was saying unlike UHD or wearables, smartphones are not something that people need to be persuaded to use – they already have them and use them regularly and in many cases compulsively.
But how can they be harnessed by the industry to improve and enhance their experience with the TV?
1) ACB has seen, over the years, actual appetite in the flexibility to “mirror” or “vroom” content from tablets and phones onto the TV. We’ve seen consumers, when given this ability have the opinion of their TV and its features considerable boosted.

2) The element of collection and control that seized the imagination of the PVR user years ago and is now an expectation…so it is no surprise to us that that area is of major interest to consumers and the industry and of course the regulator would need to play a part.

3) So it’s this consumer need that means it is vital to work for the industry to work super hard to get greater confidence in the cloud for all demographics and personality types. These customer expectations will have implications on how any mobile device (wearable or otherwise) will be used. Slick ads won’t overcome core fears,  so this does need much work and I would suggest that the industry should work together on this and understand fears around data collection whilst working on this challenge. Reassurance is critical.

4) So whilst we are waiting for this consortium to work together to get best consumer understanding , the industry may wish to work harder to encourage personalisation of storage and make brands/styles for hard drives that appeal that create feelings of ownership and link to the individuals sense of self or sense of group/family. The industry could do this and ensure that the jump from the Smith households content hard drive to the Smith’ cloud is still the Smith. And so the move may be less of an issue – more of a de-clutter than any major step.

Of course for some this won’t be necessary, but for other demographics they will need encouragement to shift over and will prefer a hard drive in the first instance and take some time to move over to the cloud.

This personalisation and or family-isation will help make the content feel more treasured, more valued and less disposable. The industry needs to work hard to retain the feeling of attachment to content and avoid the potential distance and the blurring of where the content has come from and understand where it might be watched and how.

So one would anticipate NDVR better for millennials and the hard drive/ PVR better for baby boomers but if the industry does what I say they could be looking at the nDVR working for all within the next seven years.

5) The fast forward dilemma – we think this may have plateaued out but most importantly viewers prefer control and anything that impacts control reduces their viewing experience.

Perceptions on UHD

August 26th, 2014

With IFA and IBC 2014 just around the corner, the technology world will step up a gear as new releases and technologies that will “change the world” are show-cased. With no new revolutions on the horizon, the evolution of HD into UHD is the latest game-changer.

ACB has always conducted research on the purchase and use of new technology and is known for reliable forecasting of the mass market and adoption of key features into routine behaviours. Unsurprisingly, there is always a lot of journalistic interest in ACB and this year opinions and perspectives are sought on UHD and where it really fits in with the “average” consumer.

1. Is this something that consumers (and their front rooms) are ready for?

As the technology marketing boats set sail and praise their own technologies and inform the public on what they need to be buying, it is critical for the predictor to remember the demographic of the buyer. For UHD the industry will need to carefully think of the target market and anticipate it to be older than it was for HD and as such need to create the marketing experience with that in mind. Currently 33” is the mainstream size and the customer perception of a big screen might be 55”. However, as time goes on the expectation is more than likely to grow with the TVs, as hardware makers phase out smaller sizes in the same way that thin/flat screens replaced CRT.

One of the 1-3-9 industry neutral media lab participants M36 – who is higher up the adoption curve generally and currently has a UE40F series TV with Evolution- described how he had been discussing UHD with his friends, who he recommended get the latest H range of Samsung TV. The friends had agreed they were keen on 3D, but that UHD was less relevant because of the current level of quality available through HD.

M36 also stated that size was not a strong enough reason to upgrade his TV, “There must be a point where people know it’s too much. My 40 inch TV doesn’t feel too small, why would I get a 55? Larger than 40 would feel imposing”.
Whilst a massive TV screen streaming Man U* scoring in the 93rd minute in UHD might be the stuff of dreams, the reality of life might prove a hard perception to budge.
*insert appropriate team

To play devil’s advocate here ACB knew that in fact M36 would love a bigger screen 46” as it was observed that he tried to persuade his wife in the shop two years earlier (during purchase) and was seen talking fancifully about his passion for the entire walls being screens, but for now his perspective has changed due to the clarity of current high-spec TVs.
Improvements across other parts of the TV other than the screen might possibly drive belief and desire that a replacement TV is needed. In terms of potential capabilities/features for these big beauties, that could include interaction with content outside the frame of what’s being viewed, but the makers of Game of Thrones may prefer not to spend >$6 million an episode to have overlays or interfaces of other content masking it or competing for eyeballs, but they may be more tolerant of content, warming the viewer to their new series or promoting their app. This will need more genuine research as the content will have to be right and the consumer may find commercials darn irritating. It is likely future EPGs will change but they will need to enhance the overall content experience of course not block/damage/reduce. Having additional features to the TV is something customers are expecting whether it’s built in Freeview or a catchy new interface to play Netflix from.

2. Is the UHD experience a place for immersion (e.g. the stadium seat view) or interaction (e.g. statistics feeds, multi-camera views, etc.) and where is that balance?

This is something that may be still easier to obtain by going to the cinema, where you dedicate 3 hours of your time to watch one film in a darkened room, but we know that the front room is a constantly changing eco-system. In short, yes, but immersive experiences will be rare as life takes over. Occasionally the context will be created to have the stadium seat view; it’s likely to depend on the type of TV content being viewed more than anything else as well as the household’s viewing habits. This is why ACB studied the London 2012 Olympics and the US 2013 Super Bowl –the dates are less important- what is essential is to understand the audience behaviour and viewers appetite in these heightened viewing conditions. There were occasions when for the broad-based audience, the TV was all. Given this type of content and other contextual factors, (see the phase 6 industry neutral longitudinal media lab report taster http://www.acbuk.net/uploads/pdfs/acb-phase-6-sample.pdf)

So yes this TV technology offers potential for unique and powerful heightened experience around that type of content. With regards to second screen use, to date viewers are potentially more likely to interact with these devices during light entertainment programmes (I’m a Celebrity, X-Factor), though stacking is likely to remain popular and meshing interaction much rarer, it’s still mostly independent of the TV content and the aggressive push for second screen use will have to come from the main screen. Highly engaging content, such as dramas, are more likely to be watched without any concurrent activities due to viewers focusing on the vividness of the picture and story. For now, ACB are expecting TV providers to build in overlays of content or options on the side of a screen – viewers are unlikely to want to give up any screen real-estate for anything other than the programme unless it was integral to the content. We do need to flag up the initial irritation-factor and how disruptive this can be seen by most viewers. Filtering is vital and this will evolve; customisation is key and helping the customer customise the experience must be integral to the marketing campaign.

ACB consistently reminds clients of the social etiquette that surrounds TV viewing and highlights the importance for manufacturers of considering social and private barriers as well. For example, in Phase 6 of the 1-3-9 Industry neutral longitudinal media lab, Francis Gardner’s (46) opinion was originally optimistic around having Twitter on his Panasonic TV: M46: “I was quite excited when I first saw my Twitter, because I like the idea of having Twitter on whilst you’re watching TV.”
But then reality hit home for M46: “… it was Sports Personality of the Year, I put Twitter up for that. I genuinely wanted to see what it was like. I think, maybe at a different event that might have worked. The speed of the traffic, you know the number of Tweets flying along the bottom, you could either concentrate on them and even then you couldn’t quite catch it or you could concentrate on the programme. Trying to do them both didn’t work at all… it’s got to the point where it’s not helpful, it’s distracting.” M46 claimed.

The viewer experience on this occasion was overload, due to the lack of experience by the consumer and also the marketer, but the fact that there was a consumer desire to engage with social media alongside content does offer some potential. With customised filtering in place it may increase engagement with content. This is an area which would need to be looked at in more detail through natural research to understand the impact of the experience given the spontaneity of the event.

The biggest questions to answer right now are about the offering. What are the consumers of today going to find compelling about an improved clarity of TV when HD (720p to 1080p) covers about 50% of current channels? The cost of some UHD TVs is definitely falling fast, roughly 20% in the past six weeks. On the TV floors in the vast department stores of Oxford Street, London, most of the TVs are UHD. The colours are turned up to 11 with deep blue skies and the emerald pitches and nearly all showcasing the football. Suppliers are gambling on the predominantly male viewer/buyer finding the enhanced viewing quality of ‘the beautiful game’ irresistible. The salesman asks the prospective purchaser to face the TV and then step back away from the TV so many feet… and then he gestures with both hands – fingertips pointed towards the TV – to explain optimal seating and view. For the earlier adopter or a slightly TV obsessive perfectionist, they may like to measure out the distance and position their chairs/sofas correctly to ensure the ‘movie- like’ quality they hope to recreate. No outside interference, low light, higher sound quality that is louder than normal and all in all a complete, richer experience. For the slightly later adopter, there may be a short hesitation whilst viewers scratch their head and consider cost and their use and experience of UHD vs HD vs SD. All viewers will need to wait for the content suppliers to catch up.

Yes, UHD and the TV viewing market is an increasingly competitive environment this autumn. A meeting of minds and strategy needs to happen between the creative advertising industry, content companies and suppliers in order to effectively target the viewer and fellow viewers in this immersive viewing experience. Importantly the consumer must be central to this discussion and all offerings need to be sensitive to social viewing. That is invariably more valued to ensure the best viewing experience from this very powerful screen.

Summer at ACB

July 1st, 2014

ACB has been working through and completing the 7th phase of the 1-3-9 media lab. Appropriately named “Going Beyond Engagement”, this year the lab looked not just at the use and adoption of the second screens in mass market homes but at the latest questions surrounding attention, content drivers and expectations of the viewer and user.

Exciting results answer key industry questions such as the relevance of personalised content to the viewer, where the attention is going in the front room with the proliferation of so many devices in the front room and how viewers are evolving their viewing to maximise their enjoyment. Insights and answers that were discovered during phase 7 have had a somewhat different look or feel to the exciting finds of the Super Bowl of 2013 and the Olympics of 2012. No extremes in viewing provided a reliable steadiness in participant viewing and answers around use of technology rather than the heightened atmosphere and super peak viewing that was the Olympics and Super Bowl. Many of these insights are still emerging and being written up as you read this, so stay tuned for more updates and information.

ACB is not only working to produce the next set of industry results but it’s also been a busy time for presentations and public appearances. Sarah Pearson, the Managing Director of ACB was asked to host the “Using companion screens to improve TV and make money” panel at the 2014 Connected TV World Summit. A prestigious 2 day event which was held at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Theme of the event was to deliver thought leadership and insights on the business and technology strategies that will safeguard the competitive connected era. Panelists from Piksel, Channel 4, NPO and ITV stepped up to debate the best ways to engage an audience using second screen apps.

The Living Room Lab, now fully underway has not only completed research for clients but is now taking orders and proving to be a powerful service to understand consumer use. Interests around previous captures have proved equally compelling with the interests of the industry not just trying to look forward but gain an understanding of where today’s behaviours have come from and what were the drivers for them. Positive client references have given us a real boost that this new product is delivering actionable insights that are valuable and swift as we intended

ACB at the RTS and more

February 21st, 2014

The Living Room Lab seems to have captured the imagination of product developers keen on the in-depth, in-context research on multiple devices that delivers insights in less than a month. ACB has been busy – with much of our work churning out insights using this new ACB research tool.

This week has been busy with some presentations out of office. A relaxed and informal meeting of Royal Television Society gathered at ITV, London to hear from Ken Blakeslee, Web Mobility; Vibeke Hansen, Arquiva; Katarzyna Mastela, University of Westminster; Ali Shah , BBC and Phil Stevenson of ACB to discuss the potential impact of the latest emerging technologies. This included Google Glasses, wearables and 4K TV’s.
Questions from the audience addressed to ACB included asking about engagement with main TV in comparison to engagement when watching with a second device and how this differed under live and time-shifted conditions?
Whilst ACB would have liked to contribute a detailed answer – our role at the RTS was very much to give an overview on some insights around young children and behaviour change and appetite for multiple screens.
In terms of other devices, it may be early days to forecast use of Glass and whilst we do believe that in-context research would be most valuable here – for now Glass is not currently available in the UK but as soon as it is – ACB would hope to incorporate the devices into the study to see how they are used in context.
Next week is also busy: ACB has been invited to open a session on BIG DATA at Mobile World Congress where ACB has been asked to present on ‘trusted data and ethics’
Drawing on our unique experience of handling highly confidential data Sarah Pearson will advise that businesses should try and identify consumers latent needs – often those that are not readily articulated and think of the long term. Sarah Pearson will recommend a big vision of connecting with the consumer to ensure they are involved in the process of data collection and she will attempt to persuade the MWC audience that this relationship will ensure that there is more sustainable value with ‘trusted data’.

Sarah Pearson will later attend Oxford Media Summit that will address the latest issues on media policymaking in the UK.
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ACB are still in the process of producing insights for 1-3-9 members addressing Phase 7’s questions raised at the last members meeting.

Rethinking Research

December 13th, 2013

At the ASI last month the audience learnt of a paradigm shift in audience research. Much of the industry asserted that they preferred to dispense with the title of audience research and their role as researchers in preference to data management experts. This shift is interesting.
ACB is always interested in discovering new behaviours and to ensure that the industries questions are as future focused as possible and relevant to emerging needs . With this in mind, in addition to delivering the pioneering 1-3-9 Longitudinal Research and delivering insights from phase 6 – ACB are pushing ahead the frontiers of knowledge with capture of phase 7.
Our priority at ACB is helping our clients know the right questions and the lab is designed specifically for this. ACB’s Phase 7 is called Going Beyond Engagement and builds on the insights from Phase 6 (entitled:Driving engagement using multiple screens).
Two new additional research tools have also been designed to help researchers and product developers gain unique insights:
The first is the Living Room Lab that has been designed for quick, agile product development insights and evaluation of how the technology is received into the real life of the home. The natural testing environment of the home offers greater rigour and an opportunity for client to gain insights that go beyond the standard lab.
The second research tool is the Café Lab which is designed for sensitive projects requiring an informal out of home setting for the client to gain best insights. Participants are given the opportunity take part in a study where ACB can remotely and unobtrusively capture what is on their screens and their engagement. It is a vital tool that can be used to successfully gain insights on demographics who find it difficult to reliably articulate their behaviour or recall exposure. It was this lab that was used for the recent social networking study on children and teens for the Advertising Standards Authority.
These are just a few new innovative research methods of discovering behaviours. So ACB sees itself as vital in helping the industry and the bigger giants craft the right questions and data mine for the right behaviours – the two work well together – future focused research shines a light for the data management analysts to follow.
Let’s hope the next year 2014 will be braver and the industry will continue to pioneer new ways of understanding existing and future behaviour within this new paradigm.

ACB spreading the word

October 22nd, 2013

Having studied, analysed and understood audience behaviour for the last 7 years, ACB will be taking this experience to act as a judge for the apps section for the London 2013 Hackfest. Labelled as ‘Powering the next generation of innovation, invention and creativity’. App developers sitting on the very front of innovation will be creating apps that could change the way we do… well, anything! There are sure to be some exciting creation surfacing at this years convention. More to follow.
If judging app designs created by developers who’ve stayed up for 48 hours using a mixture of energy drinks and bright screens isn’t your thing, ACB is also jet setting to the beautiful city of Venice. Drawing on the learnings from the US Super bowl 2013 and London 2012 of how new technologies are used by consumers to view ‘must see’ broadcast events, Sarah Pearson will be speaking at The 2013 European Television Symposium in November. and will provide some insights into emerging patterns of behaviour  based on Phase 6 of the 1-3-9 Media Lab ethnographic study – at this session you’ll have the opportunity to see how people are adopting and using apps and second screen devices to enhance their viewing experience. Those attending will have the opportunity to take part in this open discussion session.

ACB: Expanding the product range

October 10th, 2013

With the IBC show in the past and phase 7 of ACB’s latest research just around the corner it is a perfect time to update the current products ACB has in its range to meet our customers’ increasing appetite for in home labs. Having traditionally focused on annual research and avoided smaller projects it’s inevitable that the latter would become necessary. The Living Room Lab is focused on delivering to the product developer who needs best insights super fast.

Offering a view of new technology use in the everyday household for example: a family with  teens, a flat share of young adults or a family with children under 5. ACB can match the product with the family to give a real life living room use.

Followers of ACB’s may exclaim that this is the same. Yes, families are still being recorded in the home. However, there are some distinct differences to 1-3-9. This is not about looking at future behaviour it is designed specifically for our product development clients and entirely confidential.

The focus is to deliver clients with a  swift and 360 degree view of the household ACB is only recording for one week! Being strictly ethnographic, the focus will solely look for behaviours and trends around clients questions with an aim to provide a confidential insights into first uses of technology.

With a complete process of two and a half weeks ACB can aggressively out pace focus groups, in-depth interviews and observing techniques to provide speedy answers in the most time effective manner.

Burning questions and answers at IBC 2013

September 24th, 2013

After five early starts and late nights in Amsterdam ACB headed home with the knowledge that some major interest was sparked at the IBC show of 2013. The crowds were understandably drawn in by the idea of watching football in 8K UHD at the Future Zone, but has the industry considered whether viewers want to sit one metre away from an X Factor hopeful on a 100 inch screen while they are given four resounding noes?
It was evident that it wasn’t just the screen being reinvented this year. Our neighbors at Cisco presented “project Fresco”. A display technology incorporating edgeless  TVs covering multiple walls with an immersive and interactive control suite. If anything could shake up how a viewer watches TV this could. With that in mind how would advertising be affected if there was more than just the TV screen to advertise on in the lounge?

With UHD TV labelled as “the next big thing”, smart phone sales, for the first time ever, over-taking standard mobile phone sales and consumer interaction at an unprecedented level. What was the burning question posed by the majority of professionals interested in ACB? One of the most prominent questions/pleas was “What is driving second screen engagement and complementary use?”. Luckily it was one of the main areas for our previous studies using the Super Bowl and Olympics to act as peaks of view, and with perfect timing Sarah Pearson delivered an insightful perspective into driving viewer engagement. Key insights look at how quickly children adopted new behaviours and multiple screens into their routine, this crucial insight is happening from ages as young as three!

Importantly, ACB’s research demonstrated and revealed the differences between parents of very young children in the US and the UK. In the UK there’s a TV etiquette among parents of young children that only one screen should be viewed at a time. Digesting two forms of content on multiple screens is not encouraged. The main core driver of this viewing is by parents to have some degree of  control with children using the tablet. This differed in the US where there was greater freedom of use by two and four year olds, the tablet devices (designed for children) allowed greater freedom of use and in turn more encouragement was given by the parents to do so.

The presentation on these key insight are now publicly available! For details please contact office@acbuk.net

ACB returns to The Future Zone at IBC 2013 (stand 8.G45)

September 10th, 2013

From September 12th – 17th, ACB once again has the privilege of showcasing our work at the IBC (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam. After the success of last year’s stand and the interest ACB received, to be invited back is a fantastic opportunity for us. We will be based in the Future Zone on stand 8.G45 – come and say hello to Jamie Lawrence (Researcher) and Phillip Stevenson (Senior Researcher) who will be more than happy to discuss our work on complementary apps and second screen engagement, and of course give you the opportunity to showcase your own insights, ideas and inventions (we’d be rude not to!).

This year, Sarah Pearson has the added honour of opening up the session entitled ‘The Second Screen – From Statistics to Strategies’ at the IBC on Friday 13th at 8am. Sarah will present insights from the 1-3-9 Media Lab’s study that took place during the 2012 Olympics, the 2012 Autumn viewing schedule, and the 2013 Super Bowl in the US. Sarah will be demonstrating capture of second screens and showcasing ‘Three Peaks of Viewing: Drivers of Multiple Screens’. We welcome along everyone who wishes to come along and join in the debate with Sarah and the rest of the superb panel (Les Carter and Regina Bernhaupt, chaired by James Neufeld).

The array of new technology that was showcased in The Future Zone at last year’s IBC was a joy to behold, and ACB are looking forward to meeting you all for a coffee or beer (or both!) to complement the inevitable interesting conversation.

So pop on down to The Future Zone – stand 8.G45 – we can’t wait to show you our work.

Catching up with the kids – do some rules need rethinking?

August 2nd, 2013

Last week the ASA released a report on the research ACB conducted into the use of social networking sites by children. This was reported in The Guardian www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/jul/26/children-lie-age-facebook-asa by Mark Sweeney. Given the results of this research,  it is now expected that the industry, as a whole,  will consider carefully how it might best target advertising given that children often play or joke about their age when using social networking sites.