Photo: akasped via flickr
Mobile and video companies are getting a lot of attention in the press regarding their ability to address the shift in consumer habits. This “ability” banks on TV being replaced by online video or augmented dramatically by the use of mobile devices. What the press is missing or avoiding is the power of the last mile.
The mobile companies and services riding on a mobile device have solved the expensive problem of getting into the home, but have yet to crack the code for generating piles of cash from amassing and reaching audiences on these digital devices.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, broadband cable and telecom providers invested heavily in laying fat pipes all the way to your home. Their goal was to improve service, provide more programming, add new services (e.g. Triple Play) and make every home a “connected” home. Today, virtually every home in or near a major metro is cable-ready, has access to high-speed internet and, in many cases, is ultra-connected thanks to fibre optics. Recently, thanks to the Connect America Fund, the FCC provided $300M in cash to the telecom and cable companies to bring broadband to rural America with the aim of providing Internet access to every American.
Providing access to the control of the home experience has not yet been heavily promoted, but we are starting to see the telecom and cable companies flex their muscles. A friend recently mentioned to me that suddenly every TV (with a cable box) in her home was defaulting at start up to the local news station (owned by the cable company). Today’s consumers can change this setting (deep within the menu system of course), but I can imagine a day when you turn on your TV and you are presented with a 30-second infomercial, providing consumers with the opportunity to fully engage and then get more info via VOD service or through another connected device in the home.
This is just a single, simple example of how cable and telecom companies have enormous, unspoken power to leverage information known about viewing habits, home address, web behaviours and related purchases. By owning the pipe into the home, providers like Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon have enormous advantage in helping brands reach the end consumer, perhaps with more success than they would via a mobile device. This last mile may change the way consumers engage with brands. When will we start seeing the full-potential or promotion?
The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc.
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