Convergence Calls for Better Tracking, Reporting

Convergence of media will require companies to use measurement solutions that track users across channels, according to “The Rise of Lifestyle Media: Achieving Success in the Digital Convergence Era,” a report expected to be presented by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) today at the NATPE television industry conference.

As consumers adapt to what the report calls “lifestyle media,” the combination of a personalized media experience with a social context for participation, a new format of measurement that can capture user data across platforms becomes a necessity for publishers and advertisers. New programs will be required to connect content consumption across set-top boxes, computers, cell phones and other media. Heightened measurability makes both publishers and advertisers more accountable, ultimately increasing spending on convergence media channels and creating an environment of deeper audience engagement.

Ad dollars are expected to follow the the Internet ad spend trend seeing growth over other channels. “The growth of online advertising is outpacing growth in all other mediums,” Vinod Baya, principal author of the report at PricewaterhouseCoopers told ClickZ News. “This is primarily because of the targeting, effectiveness and accountability that is available in the online environment.”

“This digital convergence era allows content to be used across a variety of different platforms. The rules are radically changing in a world where video content is no longer bound to a specific access network or device,” said U.S. Entertainment & Media Advisory Practice Leader at PwC, Deborah Bothun, in a statement.

PwC advises businesses adapting integrated measurement to expect an initial dip in revenues of existing platforms, but said it’s best to implement models to accommodate convergence within the next year.

“While media companies, both incumbents and new entrants, are competing for consumer loyalty, those that figure out the model to maximize value and revenue in the next year or two will have a larger piece of the content revenue pie in the long run,” said Bothun.

Privacy concerns are a caution for publishers. “Customer information is an organization’s greatest asset — and its greatest risk,” states the report. Concerns with complying with existing and proposed data-protection laws will drive the new lifestyle media market.

“Privacy issues are bigger in a converged, on-demand and interactive environment for the simple reason that more data is being collected and often the data can be associated with a particular individual,” said Baya. “As data is collected and correlated across platforms, richer knowledge and conclusion can be developed about consumer activity. The same is not true in a linear channel environment.”

Actions to protect privacy on other channels can lay groundwork for converging and developing platforms. “[Last week’s] request to Google from the Federal government is one example of the debate that is to take place about how consumer activity data needs to be protected and what are appropriate uses,” said Baya.

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