‘America is changing from consumers to prosumers,” says Rich Teplitsky, Lucent’s director of communications. “They don’t care about this year’s model or last year’s brand. Instead they are shouting what they want loud and clear.”
These prosumers are telling that communications industry that they want what Teplitsky terms “content banking.” Be it money, music, talk, or business information, people want to have it banked, on hand, and ready for access across the globe. For the already ulcer-ridden industry of advertising, this change has proved to be a traumatic, mold-cracking experience.
Exactly how one can market in the face of new customer profiles and ever-shifting technology is the topic of Teplitsky’s on “Corporate Communications and Technology” on Tuesday, October 17, at 4 p.m. at a meeting of the Jersey Communications, Advertising, and Marketing Association (NJ CAMA) at the Princeton’s Marriott Conference Center. Cost: $45. Visit www.njcama.org to register.
A native of Philadelphia, Teplitsky attended Temple University, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1985. After graduation, he joined WWDB, one of FM’s first all-talk radio stations. “Everything was done live, with all the interview talent being pulled in and run to the split second,” he recalls.
Teplitsky then worked for the media department of Philadelphia Magazine until l996, when he moved with the times and headed various communications departments for a series of high tech companies. His students at Temple University, where he teaches public relations, love to hear his tales of telecom’s boom, then bust of seven years ago, and current re-boom. As communications director for Lucent worldwide, Teplitsky tracks his firm’s expanding international partnerships and reassures everyone that telecom innovation is speeding ahead.
“Technology has rearranged our social networks,” says Teplitsky. “This change will surely continue and advertisers ignore it at their peril.”
New canvases. Analogous to magazine publishing in the l970s, today’s blogs continue to proliferate into increasingly specialized interest topics. (Yes, there really are 30 blogs on skateboarding.) Three decades ago, magazine advertisers quickly seized the opportunity and inexpensively targeted these small, hot-to-buy groups. That same opportunity now has reemerged in cyberspace.
Ironically, while technology makes us global, the mode is infinitely more personal. MySpace (www.myspace.com), once deemed a young person’s online pathway for finding friends, activity partners, and jobs, has crossed the age barricades. Seniors are slacking off on E-mailing the grandchildren and increasingly are logging on to link with each other for meeting or just chats. These more personal channels allow a more personal marketing access, but only if the message is deemed an aid, not a distraction.
Teplitsky points out that the new media, like their still-giant kin of television and radio, all require ad space to pay the bills. For the marketer, this means more study not just of new targets, but of the media a given client’s buyers access.
Cyber furors. Individuals using cybermedia are not just watching, as they do with television, or reading, as they do with newspapers and magazines. They are interacting, and therefore feel more possessive about their screens and time. The television commercial is greeted as a tolerated interruption, but the online ad gets labeled “spam” and is often viewed as an invasion.
The prosumer clicks his mouse in search of information. The marketer who merely seeks brand recognition will fall — stunning graphic and all — right into the delete basket.
Additionally, digital rights management issues will accelerate with increasing content, Teplitsky warns. Who is the author? Who is the owner? And who, if anyone, gets paid? These are questions that the judiciary has only partially answered for the last half century. It began with photocopying, moved on to VCR tapes, and is now a hot issue with Internet content.
The fight over downloading intellectual property will continue. The advertiser must examine not only his own ethics, but the legality of the media through which he plans to send his message.
Device fatigue. Watch a road warrior in any airport. He’s got his cell phone and laptop flipped open, scanning back and forth to his Blackberry, dreaming of that on-plane moment when he can relax with his MP3 player or E-book. We all are becoming victims of what Teplitsky terms “device fatigue.”
We are screaming for electronic consolidation amid our juggled clutter, while retaining, of course, all that content banking and global portability we’ve come to love.
The American prosumer has more than demonstrated his willingness to pay for electronic content and the devices that deliver it. Teplitsky notes that Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) has risen to $72. This means that Americans are gladly paying nearly one half of their average individual at-home food bill each month just to reap the riches of the Internet and the cell phone. This ARPU does not include cable and other television fees.
As manufacturers scurry to catch up and cash in, telecommunications lines have begun to blur. Is Google a connector or a content provider? What are the turf differences between Yahoo and Verizon? More than ever, the advertiser finds himself perplexed as to how best to reach his customer.
Marketers’ dilemma. Amid this swirl of expanding and converging technologies, what’s a poor ad person to do? Teplitsky advises a new strategy. Concentrate less on placing spots and on grabbing larger market shares of targeted groups. Instead look for those furtive sites and cyber niches where individual customers hide. After all, they tend to cluster in interest groups — places where standard demographic studies do not apply.
But most important, Teplitsky warns advertisers to keep themselves technically aware. Technology is driven by trends. Latch onto these and it becomes easier to predict the next avenue of placement. “Remember,” he says, “your competition is already studying the new changes. You just cannot afford to be ignorant any longer.”