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Keeping Pace with Technology

Last evening, I had the opportunity to observe my 13-year-old daughter handle a technical challenge that my wife was experiencing.  As my daughter took the laptop and started in to solve the problem, my wife looked at me with that now-familiar frown which says something like "Why can she do this when she's never taken a computer course in her life, and I, who have used computers for years, can't figure out how to begin?"  I smiled and told her not to take it personally.  Based on conversations I've had with friends, I believe most parents have experienced this phenomenon.

Perhaps it's perspective.  Perhaps it's age.  After all, we observe children picking up a language without even thinking about it.  They just start talking, make lots of mistakes, get corrected, and slowly, over time, they've mastered it.  Kids can also pick up multiple languages at the same time.  Why shouldn't they be able to handle technology?  I recently upgraded my smart-phone and my daughter took it, played with it for a few minutes, handed it back to me and said "cool!"

Maybe it's mostly about intuition.  The user experience on a smart-phone is meant to be intuitive.  As is the user experience on a tablet.  These products don't even come with a user manual in the box.  My new gadget had a quick start guide of about 4 pages and the user manual is online somewhere.  I haven't needed it yet, and not because of any brilliance on my part, but because it is designed to be intuitive.

As the calendar changed from 2010 to 2011, I got thinking about the last year and where we were and where we are now.  Not to be nostalgic, but to try to get my head around how quickly things are changing.  Let's remember that a year ago the Apple iPad hadn't hit the shelves yet.  There was talk of what was coming, but did any of us know then the sort of impact this device would have on our industry?  Not a day goes by without my seeing yet another article on the subject.

It is clear that publishers are both embracing and grappling with tablets.  Some are embracing Apple, others are avoiding it and going straight to the Android-based tablets.  The competition will likely wear down Apple's strict 30% cut and closely-held information about subscribers and buyers of magazine editions.  Personally, I'm looking forward to watching this all change and be able to talk about what happened this time next year.  I must admit being very pleased that the magazine publishing industry is not succumbing to Apple in quite the same way as the music industry did years ago. 

But this is not to say that mass retailers, like Apple, Google and Amazon are not to be reckoned with.  They are.  One of our clients says that 80% of their books are now being sold through Amazon.  The concern is the amount of information coming back to publishers from mass retailers about these end consumers.  It's little or nothing.  It's certainly not a technical problem (so I won't have to get my 13-year-old involved).  It's an ownership issue.  Do publishers own the data about who their audience is or not?  Until publishers insist that they do, they will be bullied into sales channels where all they have to hang their hat on is units sold. 

We are in conversations with other technology companies that are trying to tackle these problems and are working with information providers who insist that they need to know who the members of their audience are in order to be effective marketers.  As solutions emerge, Advantage will be part of them.  We believe our clients deserve to have a complete picture of each customer's behavior and intelligence about their interaction with the products being marketed.  We believe this information is key for your growth.

As always, I would be happy to discuss this or other topics with you.  You can contact me at .

Have a successful year! 

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