Winning in the attention economy?

Winning in the attention economy?

A day of contrast today at the NAB Show in Las Vegas as the doors were flung open on the first day of the Exhibition. 

The floor, as ever, was filled to capacity with crowds marvelling at the latest broadcast technology on offer from all the expected vendors, the usual suspects.

But, will these vendors be the same next year, or in five years time? Or is something stirring in the woods?

Is bigger, better, faster the way. Or do we need to change gear, even change the road we are on?

In an early morning breakfast session, hosted by the IABM, Peter White revealed that almost nine out of ten of those surveyed had already either stepped into the cloud, or had concrete plans to do so. And almost nine out of ten had flagged interoperability as crucial to success, yet few seemed aware of the various competing international initiatives to deliver this.

Del Parks, Sinclair Broadcast Group, stated 'no other service touches lives like local (terrestrial) TV'. I must confess that as I listened to his passionate advocacy for terrestrial TV, I simply couldn’t put down visions of advancing waves on the seashore. Parks went on to flag media regulation that caps market share in the terrestrial broadcast sector. He drew an obvious contrast with the market dominance of Google. There was understanding in the room for his position. There was also uncertainty.

Tony Emerson, Microsoft, held aloft his iPhone warning that 'millennials have a different view of quality'. He developed his point stating that mobiles are rapidly becoming the primary source of content capture (and consumption) in our brave new world. In the search for brighter and better technology, particularly 4G, is the industry at risk of backing the wrong horse? Are customers actually looking now for a different experience? Immersion and emotion, rather than refined resolution?

A theme rippling through the conference sessions is a feeling of an industry waiting, perhaps to see who moves first in a world full of choice and uncertain paths. A genuine uncertainty about the direction to take next in a world where the customer is increasingly influencing the way content is created, distributed and consumed. 

Later, in a session presented by Paul Field, Touchcast, and Ralph Rivera, BBC, we felt more rumblings of this same shift. The same uncertainty not only in relation to content consumption but also its creation and distribution.

Field claimed (boldly) his product 'Touchcast' held ‘all the core functions of a broadcast studio in an iPad' Given the subdued reaction to his claim, I was left wondering whether the audience contained any representatives at all of those downstairs on the floor admiring the traditional (high end) broadcast kit on offer.

Again we heard about the importance of richer, immersive, personalised content. When BBC man Rivera was asked how money could be made in this new environment, back came his answer (I paraphrase) 'Compete for attention and win in the attention economy’.

This year's show has seen many people observing that this is one of big change. Yet how many times have we heard that in the last ten years as broadcast technology has lived through the transition from analogue to digital? Step changes yes, and big ones. But, in reality the platform remained essentially the same.

Maybe more people should spend time in the conference rooms? Because my bet is there is a bigger wave coming that may well change the face of those exhibition floors in ways we have yet to imagine.

Transformation of this kind requires tough decisions.

How will you make the right choices now to make sure you are well placed to tell the stories that will help shape the next generation?

Let’s talk about it.


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Last modified on 19 April 2016
Andy Townend

Proven track record in shaping and delivering complex national transformation programs.