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By André Christensen

Personalization of OTT streaming services is a bit like eating a box of Cracker Jack. Getting to the best stuff requires a little more work and a little more patience.

For video providers to leverage true personalization, they have to be willing to look beyond the popcorn of generic recommendations that are made on the basis of broad categories of genres or actors. Going deeply into the psychometrics and other engagement drivers is where the real payoffs lie. But even the deepest insights have no value unless you are able to bring them to life in your tech platform.

At #IBCShowcase last week, we talked with our partner, ThinkAnalytics, about how well-executed personalization strategies can uncover nuggets for both viewers and video providers: recommendations that help subscribers dig more deeply into content libraries, as well as information that can enrich viewer profiles, help providers fine-tune recommendations and create engaging experiences that retain viewers.

With nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon setting a brisk pace, we chewed through a lot of material in 45 minutes as a graphic artist hustled to keep up. What it came down to is this: The living, breathing thing that is personalization makes content mighty. It goes well beyond just recommendations; doing it right can make or break customer relationships – enhancing revenue and reducing risk.

Among our takeaways? Successful personalization will be:

  • End-to-end – making personalization come to life requires a flexible and extensible technology platform where the components work in symphony. The right content is onboarded swiftly; rich metadata is available; a data pipeline makes the right data available at the right time; and a storefront can dynamically be adapted to cohorts and users, A/B testing, and solid recommendation capabilities
  • Iterative ­– Companies with high ambitions and rudimentary starting points can lack the staying power – or the technology – to follow incremental improvement plans. Rapid and regular introduction of new features and capabilities can help providers meet goals.
  • Expansive – Echo chamber recommendations that prevent discovery of unexplored sections of content libraries contribute to boredom and dissatisfaction. ThinkAnalytics’ Gabe Berger noted that a strict metadata match could be 98% but a better long-term option might be something less – “maybe an 82%” – that expands viewers’ horizons.
  • Relevant – Traffic, device types and shows can be indicators of engagement, but how viewers respond is equally important. Quick abandonment of content that was based on a recommendation may be a sign of a bad recommendation itself. Too many of those incidents could result in the viewer leaving the service.
  • Informative – Measurement of what works and – more importantly – why it works helps inform video providers’ decisions about the next generation of personalization. Accurate analysis of viewer behavior helps define content acquisitions, potential partnerships, the type of syndication arrangements that should be explored, media assets to secure, and more. “Keeping score,” says Gabe, “is the lifeblood of the business.”

The Nielsen Total Audience Report notes that more than 70% of respondents “cited accessibility/search of desired content” as a primary video streaming attribute. With ThinkAnalytics, we’re helping video providers meet that need through scalable cloud-based platforms that combine artificial intelligence and machine learning with human curation, and that serve recommendations to viewers on dynamic storefronts that support experimentation and fine tuning. We’re enabling A/B testing that supports ideation and validation, as well as rapid tweaking of store layouts and categories to simplify content. And we’re tying the flow of search and viewing behavior into analytics systems to accelerate the flow of information that shapes strategic decisions and futureproofs businesses.

In the end, the ROI on personalization isn’t peanuts to video providers: recommendations that underpin relationships with subscribers open a trove of insights. Knowing how, when and why content is being consumed, the devices being used, and more all can help video providers maintain engagement and loyalty and build long-term value. Talk with us about how to get there.

André Christensen