Personalisation means putting the consumer, not the advertiser or content provider, first
In the drive to personalise video it seems that you, the consumer, may be missing out. Lessons should be taken from the music industry, urged experts at TV Connect.
“Personalisation is an end user benefit but that’s not where we are at today,” said Claire McHugh, CEO at interactive video format creator Axionista.
“Tens of millions of dollars are being spent to try and crack personalisation but the end user doesn’t gain the significant benefit they should,” said Aneesh Rajaram, CEO, Vewd (formerly Opera TV and billed as the world’s largest streaming TV platform).
“This model needs flipping on its head so that users gain from opting in.”
Consumers are willing to trade data for something that is useful to them. “They are not willing to do it if it’s an annoying or insulting experience,” said McHugh.
Matt Stagg, Director of Mobile Strategy, BT Sport agreed: “The one key in any personalisation is relevance. There is a fine line between personalisation and imposition. Go the wrong side of that and you lose brand loyalty and gain disengagement.”
He added, “You can have personalisation based on demographics, on football teams, on property as well as recommendation engines or tailored content but for a content provider it’s trying to get the sweet spot between all of that and maintain relevance.”
It was widely agreed that the technology is good to go as far as richer personalised user experience are concerned. But the TV industry is not making as good as use of it as it might.
“You can hyper-customise TV experiences on certain smart TV platforms today,” said Rajaram. “Android TV has opened up personalisation options as has Vewd OS. There is a potential conflict when you start to see some OTT services on the platform take home all the bacon. They understand users better while other (more linear, less connected) services can’t compete because the platform doesn’t share content with them.”
McHugh said no-one has cracked the best UI yet. “Even Netflix doesn’t have a ‘don’t recommend this to me again’ button,”.
Spotify is held up as the poster-child of what a video service could become. “It allows the user to feel like they own it rather than pushing music at them,” she observed.
“Why is it that music services get it right?” posed Rajaram. “We have a much higher tolerance threshold for music curation. We don’t question it so much but in the video world we are very judgemental. We often feel a recommendation is wrong. We can learn a lot from Spotify but I think platforms have a big role in guiding users around the benefits of consuming a piece of content.
“For example, nobody is telling me, as an end user, that if I watch 10 ad slots in one hour of TV I will be rewarded with a free month of Netflix. The move to hybrid IP and linear delivery to connected TVs will open up more analytics to create more of such engaging experiences for everyone.”
In some respects of course, music is a much simpler equation than video. It’s ultra-shortform and generally two clicks away from being listened to or discarded. Video, on the other hand, comes in all sorts of formats, with a mix of rights, pay mechanisms, platforms and devices to consider.
“I think the TV industry should look to the music industry with regards to the sharing of metadata over different platforms,” suggested Stagg. “I’d like to see sharing of metadata across
platforms because I believe that is key to personalisation on the big screen [connected TV].”
Arguably the mobile is tailor-made as the platform for personalised experiences. Stagg said the future of sport was increased fan engagement by augmenting their experience with offers of selectable video live game angles. “Machine Learning can help us a lot by taking the hard work out of the process and tailoring content – such as highlights of my favourite three soccer teams from last Saturday. There are so many things we’ve not yet done.”
Turns out that personalisation means different things depending where you stand. It might imply a one to one relationship but Sky AdSmart, Sky’s addressable TV platform, has a higher ceiling.
“We personalise down to 5000 households,” explained Dan Stephenson, Head of Sky Adsmart. “Advertisers and marketers have been quick to embrace our use of first and third-party data combined with their own data to drive national to local campaigns.”
He said Sky AdSmart had conducted over 200 studies since launch five years ago “and we can clearly see a positive impact of tailored communications for certain brand performance metrics.
Since ad breaks which contain addressable ads “significantly reduce tune-away” he concluded that “addressability creates a more engaged audience” but he called on brands to be braver with personalising the creative experience rather than issuing a standard 30-sec spot.
“You have to think who the audience is, is it more than one person?” outlined McHugh. “What types of things might they be doing and on what device. Then you tie it all together into a fun engaging user experience.”
The incoming GDPR privacy rules may actually benefit TV rather than stifle innovation. “We will see the highest levels of engagement on connected TV because people trust TV,” said McHugh.
“The PSBs are seen as part of the establishment since people know you are giving them your viewing habits in return for something of value to them,” added Rajaram. “Your viewing data is being used to inform your viewing experience.”