What is frictionless media? Q&A with John Schiela


John Schiela, President, Converged Technology & Media at Phoenix Marketing International discusses the term “frictionless media” and how it applies in the industry today. 

  1. What does the trend toward frictionless media mean to you?

On the surface, frictionless media does the obvious: streamlines process, improves access, ease of use, etc. But really, frictionless media is all about expanding the potential market and showing people things they didn’t even know they wanted to see yet.

When I wake up, I reach for my phone to look at the weather, traffic and headline news. I live near Philadelphia, so if my phone shows me a Philadelphia Phillies score, that’s a no-brainer. What’s even better, though, is showing something to a consumer that they don’t even know they want. For example, July 4 will be here before we know it. I love to cook, and at some point I’m definitely going to start thinking about what’s on the barbeque. A frictionless experience would be seeding my thoughts before I explicitly go search out inspiration. It’s that ability to make interaction with my media truly frictionless.


  1. How do you see friction in today’s publishing and media environment? 

While today’s media environment has improved, the number one issue that still remains is fragmentation. Consumers are forced to get different content from a variety of sources. Sure, there are abundant “newsreaders” and feeds, even Facebook, but what we ultimately need is better content aggregation to bring together stories and better content distribution to make sure the content gets to us. Only then will people be able to get what they want, regardless of where they are. There is a firehose of content today, but fragmented distribution has prevented the curation process from truly evolving.


  1. How do you see media friction impacting issues your clients care about?

 The best way to explain this is to give an example – we have been working with a large MSO on how to remove friction from a complicated purchase decision within the funnel. We found that the way the items are positioned on a website and the way the story is told not only changes the entire experience and purchase process, but also affect that purchase itself.


  1. How do you see tomorrow’s smartphone reducing media friction?

 The smartphone is just a holding device. If you think about it, it’s like technology tupperware – it’s not so much the smartphone, but what’s inside. Right now, apps are inside the phone, but no one goes inside the app. Why open an app when Apple Pay allows you to purchase something via facial recognition? Expect to see many services, some focusing on media, that don’t require the friction of explicitly opening an app.


  1. If your smartphone could do one magical frictionless media (but potentially doable) thing FOR YOU, what would it be?

I’d love to be able to talk to my wife about what’s for dinner, and from there, my phone shows me the recipe, knows what ingredients I have at home, what I still need to pick up from the store and proceeds with placing the order for me. This goes beyond just frictionless media; aggregation is what ultimately will be king. You don’t need to be the best at delivering food or the best at knowing what’s in my kitchen, but putting it all together will be what wins the day.

Personalization has to get better, too. I use Google Maps to get to work every day, and our parking lot is shared with a preschool. As a result, Google believes that I’m a teacher, and I get irrelevant media as a result. Getting rid of that would certainly be magical!


  1. Can you share an example of how having or removing media friction impacts your life?

 I love video games, and it’s often how I kill time. The recent adoption of playable ads has allowed me to discover and actually experience similar types of games with no friction at all.


About John

John Schiela co-heads Phoenix’s innovative Converged Technology & Media Practice with vast experience spanning market tracking programs, to new product development, to strategic brand and positioning in both the global and domestic arena. He brings his unique mix of business, research and academic acumen to bear on developing a consultative approach to providing business solutions. Leveraging his prowess across both qualitative and quantitative realms, John drives strategic research into actionable ROI generating information strategies, target marketing, and segmentation solutions.


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