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By André Christensen

Great personalization isn’t rocket science. But getting personalization right might be just as hard.

Like a SpaceX launch, the best personalization for OTT streaming services involves leveraging a universe of technology and interconnected data points to create extraordinary experiences and open up exploration of new frontiers.

The flow of data and content through the platform needs to be in sync and aligned end-to-end. Rich metadata to describe and understand content is a prerequisite. Recommendation algorithms that match content with user preferences must be intelligent. The content management system must be able to dynamically adapt the storefront of the service. And all of it requires real-time harnessing and analysis of information to ensure not just one-time success, but the expediting of advancements that can shape future results.

So why can we pinpoint the destinations for Dragon capsules and satellites and get them there flawlessly, but we still find it hard to zero in on what a viewer wants to see on a Thursday night in November. What does it take to bring the notion of what personalization is and what it can do “into the Space Age?”

That’s a topic we’re tackling with our friends at ThinkAnalytics. Yesterday we announced that we are partnering to accelerate rich, cloud-native personalization; tomorrow my counterpart at ThinkAnalytics, Gabe Berger, and I will be discussing problems and our vision for the industry with nScreenMedia’s Colin Dixon at an #IBCShowcase panel (3:00 PM BST/10:00 AM ET/7:00 AM PT).

It doesn’t take a NASA physicist to know that the science of recommendations has room to improve.  Many of us feel like we have run out of content to watch despite having access to seemingly limitless amounts of it. Almost two thirds of viewers have said they believe that recommendations are created to benefit OTT streaming service providers’ needs, not viewers’. According to TiVo’s Q1 2020 Video Trends Report, just over 40% of OTT viewers are aware that their providers make recommendations, and only 16% of subscribers say they learn about new shows from provider suggestions. That lags almost every other source, including content ads, word-of-mouth, social media and news articles. Ads and word-of-mouth, in fact, are more than three times as effective as provider suggestions.

So why is truly powerful personalization still on the launch pad? We’ll talk at #IBCShowcase about how impatience and lack of confidence in the iterative process needed can derail service providers’ personalization strategies and about how our partnership with ThinkAnalytics is advancing the science. We’ll also discuss how personalization is the portal through which information flows to shape critical business decisions. More on that in a future blog.

Great personalization is a powerful force that can take the OTT industry to stratospheric heights. It can differentiate between the pure sci-fi fantasy of “Star Trek” and the more complex family drama themes of “Star Wars” to broaden viewers’ content horizons. It can help bored viewers escape the monotony of all-too-limited “echo chamber” recommendations and increase consumer satisfaction. And ultimately, it can shape roadmaps that can underpin providers’ success positively impacting business metrics such as ARPU, CLTV, and churn.

Yesterday’s announcement with ThinkAnalytics was just the start. Join us Thursday, when we talk about how great personalization is ready for liftoff.


André Christensen