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Why 2018 is the Year of Viewer-Level Personalisation

John Martin, CEO of Turner, was quoted last month as saying the debate on whether content or distribution is king has become much more complicated – now, media companies have to deliver a strong consumer experience to stand out from the crowd.

Historically, when families would gather around a TV set and enjoy just a handful of linear channels at the same time every day, this was relatively simple. But in a world of multi-screen viewing, and with more avenues available to broadcasters to reach their audience than ever before, many are yet to see a bolstering of their bottom line in the way they had imagined when the concept of OTT first came onto the scene.

TV has become an increasingly individual affair, and therein lies the challenge that all content providers now face – if a viewer isn’t watching TV with others, why should they be offered the same viewing experience, content, and promotions as everyone else?

Traditional challenges, new approaches

The meteoric rise of services like Netflix has driven major interest and investment in OTT from traditional broadcasters around the world. Many providers attempt to emulate the streaming giant, either through the design of their service, business model, or programming commissions. But perhaps the most enviable, and most elusive, component of the Netflix success story comes through its personalisation capabilities.

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The power to leverage data and deliver truly tailored consumer experiences is made possible by broadcasters shifting their content and infrastructure online. Recent developments have demonstrated there’s an appetite for this, such as Sky’s decision to shift its TV services to IP and remove the need for a satellite dish. Although this will undoubtedly give the operator greater headroom to reach larger audiences and expand internationally, it will also make it possible for Sky to offer deeper personalisation for the end user and drive bottom-line growth.

The value of data for OTT-first

Fuelling personalisation like this requires massive amounts of user data. Digital-first companies like Netflix are experts in using every swipe, point, and click from their viewers to deliver sticky consumer experiences. However, until recently, many traditional broadcasters simply weren’t in the position to truly capitalise on the information at their fingertips and have lost valuable market share as a result.

This is beginning to change. Forward-thinking video service providers, who have either made or are in the process of making the shift to OTT, have implemented UX platforms that allow them to harness the power of data to deliver truly personalised experiences. Whether this is the ability to identify a segment of users likely to churn and tailor promotions to prevent this, or increase customer loyalty through the delivery of highly targeted content, success will come to those who put the experience first.

Broadcasters who will have the greatest success and opportunity to bolster their bottom line will be the ones who utilise platforms that put real-time UX control in the hands of their marketing and editorial teams – those with the greatest understanding of customer wants and desires. Not only does this result in a more consistent brand experience across devices, it also helps drastically reduce the heavy costs current experienced by broadcasters who rely on engineering teams to make front-end alterations.

The new meaning of personalisation

There’s no doubt that competition in the OTT space is fierce. It’s propelled us into a new era of needing to address the fundamental business challenges of reaching subscribers with more relevant content in an accessible, affordable, and bespoke way. In this environment, broad strokes personalisation isn’t good enough. It has to be targeted, and this makes placing greater emphasis on OTT all the more important for traditional players.

It’s an exciting time for the industry and what’s now possible with UI/UX and personalisation is at a level that’s never been seen before. It goes without saying that much more advanced, viewer-level personalisation will become the future battleground for OTT services. With strong predicted growth for online video businesses and broadcasters that can enhance their offerings around the world, though, the future looks bright for those that choose to move with the times.

Ron Downey is CEO of  Massive Interactive

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