Have Your Prospective Students Cut the Cord?

Have Your Prospective Students Cut the Cord?

It’s no secret that the media industry is rapidly changing. But is your marketing plan keeping up with the evolution? Connected TV represents a major shift in television consumption nationwide. Rather than paying for a monthly cable package that has a ton of extra channels that never get watched or a long-term contract with a strict cancellation policy, many viewers are choosing streaming services from one or more different providers. As more Americans are cutting the cord each year in favor of connected TV, schools and their marketing teams need to adjust accordingly.

Who’s watching

According to Nielsen, 224 million people—two-thirds of the American population—have at least one connected device. A connected device can be a smart TV, a multimedia device (including your phone), or a game console. Viewers tend to be younger, with the under-34 population spending the most time watching connected TV. As millennials and Generation Z now make up half the U.S. population, their media habits are driving industry changes now more than ever. But every generation is watching, and the use of streaming devices and on-demand content is rising across the board.

In fact, Adweek describes two categories of connected watchers in a February article from Tim Sims: “cord-cutters, or the ones trading in coaxial cables for Ethernet ones, and cord-nevers, or those who never had coaxial cables in the first place.” Viewers in that under-34 population may have never chosen a traditional television or cable package in the first place, having grown up as a digital native.

Where they’re watching

Connected TV can be accessed through a dedicated device (like a Roku connected to your television) or as part of the standard features of another connected device (such as a smart TV or an Xbox gaming console connected to a TV). Once connected, there are tons of services that can provide content: Sling allows you to watch live and on-demand TV with customizable channel lineups. TubiTV and Sony Crackle both offer free access to movies and television. Twitch is known for video game live-streaming, while Vevo is dedicated to music video and entertainment content. Hulu offers access to both live and on-demand TV and movies.

Even with the accessibility of mobile devices, Nielsen says that 63 percent of connected TV watching happens in the living room. Viewers may be using new technology to watch television content, but they’re sitting down to watch in a pretty traditional environment. This may mean that even while consumers have the opportunity to watch programming on-the-go from anywhere, there is still an attentive audience watching from home.

When they’re watching

Nielsen says that users spend 42 hours every month on connected TV devices—that’s an average of 75 minutes each day. While traditional linear TV still holds the biggest share of viewership hours, Nielsen points to the marked changes the industry is seeing:

“Today, we watch video across mobile, gaming and other platforms, all of which have enhanced the viewing experience in the living room. And with so many connected TV options, Americans spend a collective 8 billion hours using these devices in a given month.”

Adweek also points to dropping numbers for live TV viewing, with average per-day time falling by two minutes from 2015 and by 14 minutes from 2016. Meanwhile, time spent on smartphone apps, smart TVs, DVR and time-shifted TV, and tablet apps is continuing to grow year-over-year. In a stunning report, they also say streaming TV viewers complete 98 percent of all video ads.

What you can learn

As television viewership continues to become more fragmented, the opportunities for increasingly more specific data are on the rise. The tracking of digital habits can be a goldmine for advertisers, helping them to ensure relevant content is delivered to the right audiences. Addressable advertising allows marketers to present targeted ads to their viewers, without having to worry about dayparting, scheduling, or watch mode (live or recorded). And understanding your target audience can unlock valuable opportunities to share your school’s message confidently and directly.

While media consumption may be fragmented, total media consumption is on the rise as people watch more varied content on a greater number of devices and platforms. Staying where you’re at or only focusing on traditional television is a huge missed opportunity. But by following your viewers as the industry evolves, you can spread the word about your school to those who are eager to hear it.

TV advertising is often reported as showing the most memorable messaging and still makes up a huge slice of American media consumption. But keeping up with the changing landscape is critical: There is a huge population that is enabled to consume media and advertising through connected TV. It’s essential that you’re getting your institution’s message out to TV viewers everywhere, even if they’ve moved away from traditional TV and have cut the cord in favor of connected TV platforms. As consumer expectations for high-quality content on demand continue to rise, it’s critical for marketers to keep up—lest their brands get left behind.

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