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Perpetually Connected By Gordon Marcy

In February, research and advisory firm Forrester Research released its “Mobile Trends for Marketers” and “Interactive Marketing Predictions” for 2013. These studies show more clearly than ever just how much Christian ministries must rapidly embrace technological change in order to reach their perpetually connected audiences.

Connected TV is Here

One area that this research highlighted is the massive growth in connected TV for video viewing. In its “2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers,” Forrester says one million apps are available globally, 150 million tablets, and one billion smartphones in use.

Forrester’s three conclusions — and the effect on Christian ministries:

1. Connected TV devices are more than a gimmick. By 2017, more U.S. households will have a connected television than a game console or Blu-ray player. There has never been an easier time than now for ministries to use film, storytelling, and episodic content to spread the gospel via online streaming services as people watch more online video content on their LED tvs.

2. Time spent in cars and in front of a TV is “still” a huge opportunity. Throughout history, when ground-breaking technologies have been introduced, Christian entrepreneurs have recognized and seized opportunities. The “next big thing” is the Internet of Things, a world of networked cars, TVs, and devices. This means we must now consider engaging audiences in ways that propel 21st-century gospel storytelling.

3. Online video is the “crown jewel” of future media ministry opportunities. As mobile devices grow, so does the use of video on smartphones and tablets (which Forrester looks at as distinct from a smartphone and more as a hybrid PC).

Mobile devices and their connectivity are fundamentally shifting how people behave. To be effective in such an environment, Christian networks must shift how they interact with their audiences.

Cross-Channel, Omni-Channel, and Multichannel

By the end of 2013, nearly half of online adults worldwide will be perpetually connected, fueled by the increased adoption and utility of tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices, says Forrester in its “2013 Interactive Marketing Predictions.” Four future trends noted by Forrester:

1. Interconnectedness. Ministries using media must seamlessly integrate the seeker’s experience across all interaction channels because the user will expect it. This includes websites, mobile and online video and audio platforms, social networks, direct mail, and online stores.

2. Personalization. Outreach will have to be designed around the needs and wants of the audience rather than around the marketing channels being used.

3. Responsiveness. Since people will be online more often, ministries must continually monitor these channels to respond to the audience’s questions, interests, and concerns. Delays or snags in communicating with those interested in knowing God, getting prayer, or answering their spiritual questions can mean they might move on to other sources.

4. The ministry will be online and offline. More devices will have both online and offline capabilities. A reset is coming in what connecting with constituents looks like. For example, publishers will digitize Bibles and books so that those giving these resources as gifts can add a personal video message.

Leaders must anticipate these ongoing mobile and marketing disruptions and shift mobile strategies and digital media outreach accordingly.

Reaching new audiences

Here at Glorystone. TV, we’ve been preparing to help ministry leaders transition to this brave new digital world of connected TV and online publishing. We’ve built a platform for the Christian marketplace that enables content management, publishing, syndication, ad sales, donor development, and live one-to-one discipleship. The results are more significant revenues, lower operating costs, and more engaged audiences.

Those of us who work in the ministry world are amid unparalleled yet exciting technological upheaval. This rapid change is radically influencing the way the gospel is transmitted. It is exciting to envision how God will use new media technologies to further his kingdom.

To succeed in the future, we must embrace change and adapt to new technologies. We must embrace new opportunities, innovate, and create better ways of fulfilling our mission. And most of all, amid rapid change, we must hold to an unchanging reliance on the wisdom of God.


Gordon Marcy is president of Capstone eMedia Group LLC, which developed and operates (Glorystone. tv). As a broadcast and digital media specialist, former radio station executive, online missionary, and blogger, he has a unique perspective on the rapidly changing world of new media and social networking. This post is an excerpt from the 2014 Winter edition of Outcomes Magazine.


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