Feeding the 'digital omnivore'

Australian media companies just might rejoice the fact that our love affair with older forms of media distribution is starting to fade. The digital revolution is marching ahead, albeit at a very languid pace.

Believe it or not, Australian media companies just might rejoice the fact that our love affair with older forms of media distribution are starting to fade. 

As things stand, these companies are torn between high-cost, but popular, old media models and low-cost digital models that are yet to fully gain momentum and turn as much as their profit physical counterparts. Indeed, the findings from Deloitte's latest State of Media Democracy study are really a blessing in disguise for the industry. 

The consulting group surveyed 2000 Australians across four generations on their media habits, in a study which it calls a "reality check" on the adoption and consumption of digital media. 

"Digital omnivores"

Overall, it found that a trend to multi-task across multiple devices is blazing the trail for new content consumption methods.

The finding led Deloitte Media Partner Clare Harding to crown Australians as "digital omnivores". 

"More than a quarter of Australians own a laptop, a tablet and a smartphone and we multitask with them," Deloitte Media Partner Clare Harding said. 

“Given Australian consumers’ capability and capacity for convergence, media companies are now considering content strategies that are platform, device and distribution neutral,” she said.

It's not a surprising finding. In fact, most of Deloitte's data falls in line with everything we've heard about how technology is influencing the lives of everyday Australians. 

The one interesting trend highlighted in the study is that while the rate of technology adoption is accelerating, behavioural change is occurring at a much slower pace. 

For instance, around 37 per cent of respondents still prefer hard copy publications to digital publications. However, Deloitte noted that this is still a sign of shifting behaviour, given that in last year's study around 50 per cent of respondents said they preferred print to digital. 

Habits around TV consumption are also slow to shift, with 71 per cent saying that they would prefer to watch video off a TV rather than through a device. But this behaviour is also showing signs of erosion, with 59 per cent saying they would be more inclined to consume more video online if they had a faster internet connection speed. 

The study also hinted that Australians want to do more with their devices, but the current level of services don't cater to that demand. In a nod to the NBN, the study found that 59 per cent of Australians would happily pay more for faster internet access. 

Social media boom

One area of digital media that isn't lacking in uptake or use is social media. 

"Almost half of all Australian respondents update their social network sites at least five days a week, many a number of times each day," Deloitte media director, Nicola Alcorn said. 

“How we use social media continues to evolve with multi-tasking behaviours," Ms Alcorn said. 

"As consumers seek a greater connection with the media, the talent in the media and each other, almost one third of Millennials are using social networks whilst watching TV, which is likely to include connecting with others regarding a show.”

But despite the proliferation of the trend, Ms Alcorn said that companies are still coming to grips as to how they can capitalise off embracing social media.

“The role of social media is still playing out in advertising," Ms Alcorn said. 

"It appears to be effective in driving product awareness, but not necessarily conversion. Almost 80 per cent of all Australian survey respondents report that social media has a low influence on their buying decisions," she said.

Despite the hype around social media, the study also confirms that the humble search engine as one of the most powerful tools in the digital marketers arsenal, with 83 per cent of respondents using search at least once a week, and 58 per cent doing so daily. 

So all in all, it seems that the digital media revolution is marching ahead, albeit at a very slow pace, which is curious when you consider that the race between emerging technology and the business models hoping to capitalise on it shows no signs of slowing down. 

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