When examining the habits of online digital consumers, Scott Brown of The Nielsen Company said, his company is trying to bring understanding to its clients by looking at the types of technology people are using, the changing populace of the United States, and the shifting demands of the country.

Brown is senior vice president for global communications, media practice, consumer insights and strategic relations at The Nielsen Company.  Among the types of technology, he said, tablets are all the rage, but now they are mostly a luxury for people with disposable income.

With that in mind, he emphasised keeping an eye out for the “second-generation tablet buyers,” those buyers who buy used tablets from others who are upgrading to newer models.  Brown also noted that there currently isn't an app for the tablet where users can watch television outside of the home. He suspects that if the ability to watch TV became available to the users, tablet use would increase. 

Brown also discussed the rise of “smart TV,” or television that can be connected to the Internet. Major manufacturing companies such as Sony and Vizio are building more televisions that provide Internet connectivity.

“Many people are buying these TV sets and not taking advantage of the internet connectivity,” Brown said. The advertisements delivered via TV often have widget-based functionality, for example, but Nielsen has found that people aren’t taking advantage of an Internet connection for the television.

Brown noted that there are ups and downs to the newest technologies. Tabloid and connected TV have a strong potential for the future, he said; newness is mandatory and sameness is a tangible risk, so companies need to set themselves apart from one another.

But a downside is that more and more consumers are favouring the pay-as-you-go experience. Video and music are no longer physical entities — people are either ordering from iTunes or Netflix.

Brown said that companies need to adjust to the changing populace. The new digital family is getting older, smaller,  growing more slowly and becoming more ethnically diverse. There are more families without children, and immigration has caused the Hispanic and Asian market demographic to grow. Nielsen is trying to give as much insight to their clients as possible regarding these new demographics.

“Know what your population will be in three years, rather than what it is today,” Brown said.

Brown outlined some facts about the changing populace:

  • There is no longer a traditional middle-class.

  • The Hispanic market place has grown rapidly, and as a group their video consumption is high.

  • Women talk on their cell phones 28% more than men. They are more practice, and they “time-shift” television more than men, recording programmes to be viewed at a more favourable time. 

  • Brown said there is a lot of emphasis on the younger generation, but the Baby Boomer population should not be forgotten. Boomers not only have high adaptability to new technologies, he said, but are more likely to have a disposable income and more likely to spend it than a younger generation. Boomers are also a predictable audience, he added.

Brown has seen a trend within people in which he calls “cord-shaving.” Cable TV has lost subscribers, he said, but those people are not going to the Internet but rather to other cable providers or dish networks. People are not cutting the cord on television, he said; they are staying within the same medium but switching who delivers that content.

Throughout all media outlets, audience analytics and understanding ecosystems are essential key, according to Brown. Confluent devices and data channels will be digital mainstays and pull media together. Brown recommends periodic re-invention to keep business moving forward.