March 22, 2018 | by Alexian Chiavegato

A Fragmented Market: Reflections on the Customer Experience

A panel of industry experts recently gathered at our Barcelona headquarters to share their insights on the current state of the mobile web and its impact on publishers. Markus Bucheli, CEO and co-founder of LikeMag Media House; Melissa Yonemura, Digital Media Manager for Autoweek magazine from Crain Communication; and Marco Zulj, Channel Partner manager for Google EMEA, joined Marfeel CEO Xavi Beumala and COO Juan Margenat. Steve Olenski, a Forbes and CMO Network contributor, moderated the discussion.

“Right now, fragmentation of the market from a readership perspective is extremely big,” Marfeel’s Xavi Beumala told the panel, and any given fragment could be essential to a publisher’s success. Once publishers were comfortable ignoring niche markets, thinking, “Ah, that’s just one percent. We cannot say this anymore. And that makes things much more complicated.”

Reflecting on the mobile customer experience in such a complex and fragmented consumer market led to one of the liveliest discussions of the day—and highlighted the particular importance of video content.

“Everyone wants to provide the optimal customer experience. Do demographics play a role?” Moderator Steve Olenski asked.

At Autoweek, the answer is “absolutely.” Melissa Yonemura noted that the magazine’s online demographics have shifted dramatically. Two years ago, some 90 percent of users were age 55 and older (“they definitely didn’t have smartphones”); today, the majority are 25 to 55. Now Autoweek is mindful of providing online content that will engage two distinct audiences, and presenting it in diverse ways.

“We have long, deep, detailed content and we have what I call TLDR content [too long, didn’t read] that keeps things really short and puts in lots of pictures to get the millennials─their information with their images and their video. And we also have the longer content that has more details and keeps our older audience happy, too.”

Video content has created what Olenski called “a blurring of the lines.” Younger users consume video “like crazy,” but video engages older users as well, Yonemura said. Yet video is never the whole picture. “We are meeting the expectations of both of our audiences by delivering them the content as a whole, rather than just focusing on ‘video is hot right now, let’s do video’.”

Marco Zulj of Google (calling from Dublin, where he was snowed in), pointed out that video content may be a growing trend on mobile, but it still bumps up against the “e-patience” of millennials. “It’s interesting from a publisher’s perspective knowing that for millennials we need to publish videos that are shorter online, while older generations are somehow showing more patience and looking at much longer videos.” Understanding demographics helps publishers know when to show shorter videos and when longer ones make sense.

The “video craze,” at least in part, goes back to the influence and deep pockets of Facebook, according to Markus Bucheli of LikeMag Media House (who, Beumala noted, has “massive experience” with video because LikeMag began as a video publishing house). “It was a little bit driven by Facebook for some time because they actually paid publishers for producing videos, and when this nice money disappeared suddenly then a lot of publishers actually stopped and produced less videos over time.”

Beumala confessed that “for a long time I couldn’t understand why someone would watch a video instead of reading. What I was enjoying about reading is that you can skip and fast track to wherever you want to go.” Options like Instagram Stories and the fast-play functionality featured in many new applications have won him over, since users can now easily fast-forward “to the point where you have more interest.”

With that the moderator concluded that delivering greater control, and faster than ever, is crucial to a positive customer experience. “It’s upping the control bar if you will,” Olenski said. “Don’t force me to watch something. Who loves mobile ads that you can’t skip? Nobody.”