Interesting article in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “Video Speed Trap Lurks in New iPad” about how users of the new iPad are discovering beneath the beautiful new HD retina screen and streaming lots of crisp HD video to their iPads on the blazing fast 4G AT&T and Verizon networks lurks a nasty little surprise…running through 3 to 5 gigabytes of data…a month’s worth…in just a couple of days! Maybe the article should have been titled “The Money Pit Lurking in Your iPad” because for every 1 gigabyte of data you go over your plan, you’ll be coughing up an extra $10.
I have had two personal experiences with this issue. And, my data choking encounters don’t just involve the wireless 4G network or the new iPad. Just this week, the issue raised its ugly head dealing with overages in my internet cable data plan. Let my sad tales be a warning to you all…
Et tu, iPad?
My first experience with THE MAN coming down on my happy-go-lucky, all-you-care-to-stream 4G wireless data buffet occurred this December while my wife and I had a little weekend get a way in Las Vegas.. Upon checking into the hotel, I was eager to fire up the new AT&T 4G wireless hotspot I’d purchased to replace my old, slow and one-device only wireless laptop modem.
The hotspot fired on, I connected my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, my wife’s first-generation iPad and my iPad 2 and everything worked great – until it didn’t. My wife asked if she should download a couple of TV shows and movies on iTunes to enjoy on the flight home. “Sure,” I said. “Why not?”.
Here’s why not…a couple of seemingly innocent media purchases wiped out my entire data plan for the month. I discovered this after she had departed for home and I, having stayed behind in the hotel to work on client projects, received a dreaded “suspension of service because of exceeding your monthly data limits” notice from AT&T…right before I had to lead a client web meeting, of course. After arguing with AT&T in disbelief that I could have used an entire month’s worth of data…5 GB’s…in just two days…they agreed to give me a 2 GB “grace” credit. But, they sternly scolded me, “You did use this much data and you have been warned”.
Hello, my name is Scott and I’m a Data Hog
My second experience in bumping up against today’s increasingly short data ceiling occurred just this week when I received a notice from my cable company that my internet data usage was nearing my 250GB per month limit. “250 GB’s” I yelled throughout my house, “who in the world is using this much data?!?” Turns out, it was all of us.
Maybe it’s because I insist on living on the bleeding edge of the consumer electronics technology revolution. I have to have the coolest, newest, shiniest objects. We have two AppleTV’s, two Roku players (love ‘em), two Playstation 3′s, two XBoxes, two iPads, three iMacs, four iPhones….my granddaughter has an iPod Touch, which she uses at our house a lot, my other granddaughter has an iPad and we’re all constantly streaming NetFlix; having FaceTime chats with Gram and Gramps and my grandkids; my son is always on World of Warcraft; my daughter is on Pandora all the time and downloading iTunes purchases…and you know what?
All this streaming and downloading and playing adds up to over 250 GB of data every month. It’s clear to me, our data consumption habits are quickly outstripping the abilities of our networks to keep up and surpassing the ability of our wallets to afford it. Something has got to give.
Don’t Mock Me Marketer…You’re Next!
Now, what does all this mean for marketers? Having just finished reading over a couple of industry reports on digital marketing trends…an excellent one from the Altimeter Group on Content Marketing and another from eMarketer on Top Digital Trends 2012…marketers are just now starting to deliver lots of video content. As online video use by marketers continues to explode and mobile consumption of that video by consumers continues on its frantic pace, is this situation going to present barriers for marketers trying to reach their audiences? You bet!
The implications are this: our attention is limited, our data is limited, our wallets are limited. If you want me to pay attention to your content, it better be pretty darn good. It better be able to stand up with the stuff I’m willing to pay for and download…then pay for again with overages on my data plan. But, once a data hog, always a data hog. There is no going back to the days of measly megabytes. I want my monthly terabyte plan and I want it now!
Video is certainly the shiny new online marketing object for marketers and one doesn’t fault them for that. But, video is a bandwidth super pig. And, when you understand that search is still primarily text based, maybe it starts to make a little more sense to focus on creating less data-intensive content.
It will be interesting to see if some big marketers can adapt to these challenges and wean themselves off the video super star into producing more creative forms of text-based content. In the end, that’s really what it comes down to…how good are your consumer insights and how creative can you deliver the answers, information and inspiration your audience is looking for.
What do you think about the data limitations facing marketers?
Do you have a data choking horror story to tell? Talk to us!