Will Strauss looks at HD adoption and understanding amongst viewers in the UK.

I wrote an article for the magazine last week about the public's confusion over HD.

In short it said that a quarter of folk don't know what HD is. And as many as 80% don't know the difference between HD Ready and HD Ready 1080p. It was based on research done by LG, the maker of electronic goodies.

The results may not be entirely surprising, but they were telling. While you and I might know our 1080i from our 720p, the public, it seems, does not. So, how did we get to this situation? There appears to be a few reasons:

The term HD Ready- According to blogger Andrew Bowden: "HD Ready" is perhaps the worst marketing term you could give for a TV - "ready for HD TV" is most likely to be taken as, "hey, when HD TV starts, this will just work! Cool! Isn't that great?" rather than the actual answer of "This TV will give you HD pictures when you go out and buy a new HD set top box!".

The speed of growth-“The problem really stems from a market that has, in my mind, grown up far too quickly,” says Stuart Miles.

The lack of an obvious solution- The problem is not new. In 2005, according a BBC news report there were 74 different devices that were being sold as HD but were not HD-ready.

The people selling the television sets- Ofcom commissioned Continental Research to conduct a mystery shopping exercise amongst retailers of HD Ready TV sets. In the majority of cases the advice that retailers gave consumers about how to get HDTV services was accurate. Where information was not accurate the mystery shoppers felt that this was down to a lack of knowledge rather than deception.

So, clearly, we - as an industry - need to continue to educate if we want to improve understanding and increase adoption.

But who is it exactly that we need to educate? There is a model of technology adoption that looks like this:

  • Enthusiast- excited for technology and use technology for technologies sake

  • Professional- people who use technology but are not necessarily the ones who buy it

  • Consumer- less interested in technology itself, and more interested in what it can do for them.

The enthusiast will pretty much always take up things like HD. Getting the consumer interested is more complicated - and more crucial.

Digital technologies have - up until now at least - lowered the barriers to entry, hence there are more early adopters of things like Sky+ or anything with a small i in front of the name made by Apple. As another example, pretty much anyone can learn to use blogging software.

These products are easy to use and easy to understand. Even kids can use them. Which brings me to my point.

It struck me over the weekend - as my brother showed my dad how to watch an on-demand programme on his Sky+ box - that the solution could come down to demographics.

According to Jupiter Research, teens are crucial to the adoption of technology.

  • “Teens play a very significant role in influencing the purchasing decisions for new technology. Although older teens are consistently found to be the early adopters, the rate at which younger teens adopt the technology is not insignificant,” said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch.

I'm no marketing guru but maybe a campaign needs to be directed at that market.

If we want to educate the nation I reckon we get the kids involved. Make HD content for the iPod generation. Sell the sexy nature of HD content to teenagers. Stick HD ads on during Hollyoaks (which itself is now shot in HD).

Teens will find HD easier to understand. They're more likely to adopt new things. And they're going to be around to watch these shows for the next fifty years.

And while it will doubtless be Mum and Dad who will actually pay for the receiver and telly, they too have got to learn from somewhere. That education might as well come from inside their family. The kids can explain it to them.

Just an idea.