Social media and online privacy in the Age of the Customer: Highlights from ad:tech London 2011

Katherine Kam

In 2005, 15% of people in Britain owned an iPod or mp3 player. Now over half the population owns some form of mp3 player, Virgin Megastore – followed by its subsequent owners Zavvi – has disappeared from the high street and profits in the music industry are at a record low. If Apple and the iPod could cause such disruption to the music industry, imagine what could happen if it, or a similarly ambitious company, got involved in the TV business.

This was the scenario that Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research, painted on the first day of ad:tech London.

The Age of the Customer

Elliott used the example of Virgin Megastore's dependence on real estate to describe how companies have invested heavily in trying to "lock in" their customers to prevent them going elsewhere. However, in the Age of the Customer, this is a strategy that is no longer viable. Disruptions to the industry landscape have empowered consumers with huge numbers of other options and, ultimately, the only competitive advantage that still exists is the ability to serve the customer.