SIA Security Marketing Study Released

The Security Industry Association has released a marketing study that examines user, dealer and integrator preferences to learning about and evaluating new products and purchasing decisions (see 51 page report here).

For manufacturers, it's likely worth scanning through, as it has numerous charts and rankings.

One thing I found funny was the conclusion that print trade magazines are the dominant source of professional information (with 81% saying that they regularly read them, compared to less than 50% said they read the trade mag online versions). However, at the end, in the methodology section, they disclosed that respondents were selected from 9 security trade magazines, which obviously explained that conclusion. Of course, it's hard for anyone to figure out where people overall get their information in that it is inherently skewed by how respondents are selected.

Another interesting point was that LinkedIn came in 3rd for information choices, beating out supplier / manufacturer websites, which makes no sense to me. Supplier websites, as a whole, are most certainly to me the most impactful category of information, given their brands, depth of material on their sites, etc.

There's a bunch of other stats, on trade shows, demo preferences, switching products, new product selection, etc. (see 51 page report here)

LinkedIn may be up there because people go there seeking feedback on experiances with problems, products and solutions. Maybe they go to supplier/manufacturer sites first, but then they may go to LinkedIn or other forums to talk to people who have actual experiance with products and solutions they are looking at.

Some of their findings were interesting and seemed logical. I've personally never felt that social media has a huge impact in this industry. Security isn't mainstream or sey enough to be the kind of thing that drives a lot of social media activity.

This comment: “Magazines are still very popular in the security industry, partly due to the age demographic of security people.” explains a lot though. I think it would have been very interesting to see these categorical breakdowns by the age of the respondent. As was already pointed out, the respondent selection pool might have been statistically representative. Many of the "print is dying" arguments you hear also talk about how younger people prefer to receive new information. It's not all surprising that older people in the security industry still read magazines. However, I would also wager that the "magazine readers" are far less informed overall than the "online content readers" when it comes to new products, new technologies, and current integration trends.

While the security industry does not move all that rapidly, if you pull apart a monthly periodical, and discard all the blatant ads, the table of contents, the editors page, etc. and you take the real content, what are you left with? Maybe 15 pages? Would you (the collective you) agree that all of the relevant industry news fits on 15 pages per month? I certainly think there are more things happening that what fits in the leftover space of a monthly publication.

Personally, I like both online and print media for different reasons. One nice thing about print is that it can be more suited for a good long-form article. Sometimes it's nice to NOT have the interactivity of online, to not have a comment thread that takes it off-topic, or to not have stupid reddit-style comments that add nothing to the main topic and just serve to provide juvenile jabs. But, I don't consider print publications a timely source of breaking information in any industry. Also, the overall amount of influence I give to a print publication is inversely proportional to their ad content. I don't mind a few pages of ads in the back, everyone needs to get paid. But when the articles have large blocks of text in common with what I read last week in a press release somewhere, it causes me to distrust the entire mag.

Many of the print magazines mentioned in this study are getting very thin on unique informative content. They have an opportunity to stay relevant, IMO, but not on their current track.