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Understanding Cloud Services

The Future to Advertising Cloud Services

February 27, 2013 By Jessica Boothe, Manager of Strategic Research
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“Cloud services,” “cloud computing,” “cloud storage,” and “in the cloud” are all terms used when talking about “the cloud.” Even some reading this article might find it challenging to provide a universal definition to describe cloud-based services.

CEA recently surveyed American adults to better understand how consumers perceive cloud-based services. We looked to better understand how familiar they are with the cloud, what cloud-based services they currently use and what services they will potentially use in the future.

As consumers look to familiarize themselves with cloud-based offerings; manufacturers, retailers, app developers and/or service providers will need to learn how to communicate best what “the cloud” is and its value proposition in order to both effectively advertise and as well as sell cloud services.

CEA defines cloud computing as: “the use of applications and resources available through the Internet as opposed to a local computer or network.”

Cloud Services and the Terminology that Defines it – The Consumers’ Angle
So what do consumers say when asked to explain cloud services? When it comes to electronics and technology, a majority of consumers cite “storage” above all else to define cloud services.

CEA’s research also explored consumers’ familiarity with specific terminology of the cloud and found that respondents typically reiterated with “cloud storage.” Clearly, consumers are becoming more familiar with storage options and features of cloud computing, but what about less familiar cloud concepts? Among the terms and concepts tested, consumers are the least familiar with “in the cloud” (28 percent) and “cloud computing” (25 percent).
Q. How familiar or unfamiliar are you with the following terms and phrases? 
Accompanying low recognition of the terms, just over one-third (36 percent) of consumers say they “have heard of the cloud but not really sure what it is.” As such, it begs the question where are consumers hearing about the cloud?

A majority (43 percent) say they heard about the cloud from commercials, both on TV and online from companies such as Google, Apple and This is followed closely by family, friends and co-workers (39 percent), online articles (38 percent) and online advertisements (32 percent).

 While overall awareness of cloud-base services is low, consumers appear to notice the conversations about cloud services, even if their attention is slight. Perhaps even more noteworthy, consumers say their familiarity with the cloud is based largely by associating cloud services with specific brands. 

This is especially true of services offering storage of movies and music. Consumers are clearly influenced by advertising and marketing (to varying degrees) and as such, cloud service providers should incorporate advertising as a central component to their marketing and outreach efforts.

When asked about terms or phrases consumers felt best describes the cloud services they have used in the past 12 months, close to half (44 percent) chose “convenient” followed by “free” and “storage” (37 percent). These selections suggest consumers largely associate free storage with the cloud.

When consumers take advantage of cloud services, they find the services very convenient.  In addition, consumers generally find cloud services reliable and fast. This is another positive note for both cloud providers and the industry as a whole.     
Q. Which of the following words or phrases, if any, would you use to describe the cloud services you have used in the past 12 months?

What about future cloud usage? When asked what cloud service(s) consumers might use in the future, respondent’s ranked “ease of use,” “reliability” and “free” as the most important qualities for their future cloud service.
Q. Please indicate how important or not important each of the following reasons are to your decision to use cloud services. 

Security and privacy are consumers’ top concerns about cloud services (55 percent), followed by price (39 percent). A majority of consumers currently use free cloud services, so the prospect of price implementations does concern consumers (39 percent). Furthermore, a third (30 percent) of consumers reported reliability as a concern.

Q. Which of the following, if any, are concerns you have regarding usage of cloud services? 
Consumers indicated less concern with storage capacity, signifying a belief of infinite storage capacity and/or satisfaction with localized storage.

Conclusion – Next Steps for Cloud
How likely are consumers to continue to use cloud services in light of concerns associated with the technology? Approximately 37 percent of consumers indicate the benefits of cloud outweigh the concerns they have over using it.

Overall, CEA finds consumers are satisfied with cloud services and are likely to continue using them in the future. The industry recommends advertising these services in the following ways; commercials via online or TV, social networks and free service offers.  Consumers must first be educated on cloud service technology, as they are largely unfamiliar with the current terms used for cloud services.

Any attempt to educate consumers should be predicated on their existing familiarity to include terms such as “cloud storage” and “cloud services.” Extending consumers’ knowledge of the terms to knowledge of services will also be sought after as consumers expand into this market.

Beyond specific terminology, consumers will look for descriptive terms such as “easy to use,” “convenient,” “free,” “fast” and “reliable.” Preemptively addressing concerns such as security and privacy will also be important in attracting and securing consumers to the new services.


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