The report moots four scenarios in which media appetites are graded by such vacuous sobriquets as Hungry Hungry Hippo to Kate Moss; while the sources of information these cartoon characters consume range from a handful of outlets to a virtual plurality. In response to each model, the partners have devised specific tactics for meeting these new challenges.
“In a sense, we’re living in the future now, minus the flying cars,” says Mindshare’s North American managing director for consumer insights Mark Potts “It’s an ‘always-on’ world, but at the same time, there’s a parallel world where consumers don’t always want to be plugged in. This [report] is a way for us to flesh out and organize our thinking.”
Observes Rob Master, Unilever’s North America media director: “It’s less about the platform than how consumer behavior will change because in four years years, we’ll be talking about a company that doesn’t exist today. We’re setting a new course in terms of how we think about connecting with consumers.”
In one scenario, social media like Twitter is in the ascendancy, accelerating the disruption of an already splintered marketplace. In such circumstances, advertising will be tailored to time and place, and agencies looking to help clients navigate the landscape will preside over a tsunami of data.
A second scenario, Portal of Me, posits a world where media access remains fluid, but consumer attention is focused on a few trusted brands and outlets. Content will be customized and filtered by third parties that tailor information to the specifications of consumer-provided preferences. Under this model, the consumer cedes a certain control, and brands permitted access to these walled gardens will have demonstrated a value that transcends privacy issues. Desire will beget consent.
Meantime, two other models assume a more fixed media environment in which consumers' age and education position them on the media matrix.
“The future will probably look like a combination of each scenario, but TV will stand up in the longer term,” Potts said. “We’re not sounding the death knell of traditional advertising. We’re just preparing for every contingency.