You don’t need a Ph.D. in communications to know that the media landscape is undergoing rapid and far-reaching change. Newspapers are folding, books and magazines are going digital and now, it seems, even that mainstay of the living room is losing its lock on viewers.
Truth is, more people are spending more time online than ever. Mind you, no one’s suggesting that TV is going to disappear anytime soon but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it may not be the best medium to reach consumers.
Consider some recent numbers compiled by the research company GfK. Over the last two years, the number of hours U.S. consumers spent watching TV dropped 8.8%, from 5:27 hours per day to 5:05 hours. Those consumers also spent less time listening to the radio, reading magazines or perusing the newspaper.
So where did they go instead? Not surprisingly, they headed for the Internet, where daily access increased 21%, from 2:34 hours in 2010 to 3:07 hours last year.
And where did they spend those hours of online time? The top 3 destinations were:
- Social networks (up 42% to 37 minutes/day)
- Reading email (up 19% to 33 minutes/day)
- Watching video (up 140% to 24 minutes/day)
While the shift presents a challenge for doctors rooted in promoting their practice through traditional methods, such as advertising, it also provides a major benefit for those who understand and embrace the new reality. Instead of pushing a message out to an anonymous audience that may or may not be interested in your products, the Internet fosters communication with highly targeted consumers whose actions directly indicate their interest.
It also makes it easier to connect with potential patients at multiple touchpoints along the way. Echoing the idea of using different channels at different points as proposed Nate Elliott of Forrester Research, it’s easy to see social networks as a “reach” channel, video as a “depth” channel and email as a “relationship” channel.
Seen in that light, it’s clear that the Internet is ready for primetime and that doctors who want to connect with consumers will need to tune in.
The shift from old media to new is influencing every aspect of brand-consumer interaction. Instead of interrupting people with intrusive ads and messages, doctors will need to increase their social efforts by sharing information freely, fostering two-way communication and encouraging consumers to do the same.