March 15, 2008

Broadband is now no longer simply a technological upgrade from dial-up, but a conduit for a host of communication and entertainment services – the so-called triple-play of voice, video and Internet. It therefore requires more sophisticated and targeted marketing.

This will be especially important over the next few years as broadband reaches a saturation point and the effects of a slowing economy begin to impact on consumer spending. The next phase of broadband service competition will be driven by marketing rather than technology.

eMarketer estimates that by 2012 there will be over 533 million broadband households worldwide, of which 94.3 million will be in the United States. A good percentage of these broadband subscribers will also be subscribing to a bundle of services including voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) and Internet protocol TV (IPTV).

Greater bandwidth to the home means more media options for marketers.

This is especially true for IPTV and video-on-demand, but consumers are increasingly consuming bandwidth-intensive applications—especially online video.

eMarketer estimates there were nearly 138 million US Internet users who accessed online video at least once a month in 2007 and this will grow to 190 million by 2012.

The opportunity in targeting, tracking and measuring content and media usage across devices is growing, but marketers have to know what they're doing.

An additional challenge for marketers is that the choices for consumers in the voice, video and Internet market are becoming increasingly complicated. For example, consumers are now choosing between a fixed-line phone and a mobile phone; high-speed Internet versus very-high-speed Internet; cable TV versus Telecom TV versus Satellite TV; Premium TV versus Basic TV and bundles of each type of service.

While service providers would do well to offer consumers something of a self-service model so they can pick and chose what they want, marketing campaigns need to complement this strategy by trying to address the needs of particular consumers. The shotgun approach will be less effective as broadband reaches saturation and particularly if service providers are targeting premium customers.

Marketers need to highlight the compelling point of difference between themselves and their competitors, and in non-technical language make a simple pitch. For example, AT&T recognizes that many of its customers are switching their fixed-line home phones and going to mobile voice only, so AT&T is offering a mobile/broadband bundle for these customers.

But perhaps most importantly for marketers is the need to focus on identifying how consumers can use broadband and the associated services to enhance their lives.

Can broadband save people time? Can people save money with new broadband services? How can families, friends and colleagues better communicate? Does the technology foster personal creativity? Will it help me find love?

Marketers should never steer too far away from what is essentially important for everyone. Verizon’s My Home 2.0 campaign which shows how a family’s life can be transformed by upgrading the family home to the latest technology, provides a good example of how to best illustrate the ‘real’ impact of new technology.

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