While we wait for the Comcast/Time Warner deal to happen (or not) the ongoing discussion as to the future of ‘cable TV’ providers (a misnomer to be sure) presents marketers with some interesting opportunities.
The advent of ‘triple play’ options from cable providers began the fight to control the data capture ‘tube’ connected to your home or business. First it was cable television service. Then people were offered the option of receiving Internet service from their cable TV provider. Finally cable companies came up with the ‘triple play’ option including VOIP telephone service. Deals were offered for year one (or other various promotion durations) to incentivize people to go for that ‘triple play’. After year one you then paid the full rate, which for many homes today exceeds $200/month. $3,000 per year for one-stop shopping is convenient – for cable companies at least. It’s simply expensive for subscribers.
Millennials have shown the way since they (nearly always) don’t have a home phone (and never will), and have found there is life without cable TV subscriptions so all they really need is an Internet connection. We can debate the future of cable TV until the cows come home but the trend is clear – bundled cable TV subscriptions will eventually be a thing of the past.
One reason I suggest you might be frightened is illustrated by something that happened to me this week. The home phone rang early one morning (I was actually home) and the caller ID noted it was from a charity with which we had never interacted. So like most people (ok almost ALL people) we ignored the call. Here’s where it got strange. Most times the call just ends in a hang-up. But this time we heard on the answering machine (for some reason we still have one of those), a live (at least I thought it was live) voice called out my wife’s name – “XXXX, are you there? “ That was something I had never heard before.
Then I started to think, I had been doing some work using the Internet. Could it be possible that our triple play cable TV provider could see that there was Internet activity on our account from our house where the home phone was and that we had caller ID and did not care to answer? The obvious thought is that giving it a shot by having a live voice ask for one of us by name would increase conversion (donations) rates.
If that’s the case and I suspect that it is, that approach is both brilliant AND creepy. With so many worthy causes it’s harder than ever to raise donations. Finding a more targeted way to achieve success is what we marketers work on every day.
As two-way data flows continue to offer more detailed data on data stream behavior (what programs are on the television, web habits and access to your phone), smart marketers will relish the ability to avail themselves of the cool shiny new tools. It’s our responsibility as marketing experts to our clients to be as efficient and as effective as possible.
But there are lines to cross aren’t there? Where should they be drawn?