OTT Just Got Personal

Chris Wagner, Executive VP, NeuLion
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Chris Wagner, Executive VP, NeuLion

There’s nothing valuable about vanilla these days. Be it cars, smartphones or shoes we all want to purchase things with our own personal flavor added.

Video services are no exception. Whether it is over-the-top (OTT) or TV everywhere – viewers expect to be able to watch whatever and whenever they want, regardless of location or platform. With diverse consumer preferences, more data, and more content availability than ever before, there are many new and emerging personalization opportunities in this constantly evolving and unpredictable entertainment landscape.

A Forrester Research survey in late 2016 revealed that of the 70 percent of US adults who own smartphones, each has on average 4.3 connected devices. The study also found that there is a need for providers to align technology priorities to meet rising expectations. When asked which technology and implementation investments were the highest priority for web and mobile initiatives, 69 percent of firms indicated that they were working on redesigning user experiences and 68 percent cited the need to deliver personalized experiences.

Content was a key component of personalization, with 75 percent saying that they had already personalized content on a website. Content owners can also personalize how promotions are delivered, product or content recommendations, reminders and alerts and the screen layout.

Going multi-screen is no longer an option, but a cost of doing business. Advanced customization technology can deliver curated social content, custom schedules, video, news, statistics and more, all based on subscribers’ selections and real-time behavioral data to deliver a personalized service.

  ‚ÄčOur customers can now give their viewers the ability to continue watching across devices, create their own personal video collections and quickly search curated video libraries 

An advanced viewing experience leads to increased engagement, product differentiation and the ability to unlock new revenue streams. Personalization helps to keep digital marketers accountable as they seek to drive growth while demonstrating a positive ROI in campaigns. The ability to better understand customers and respond to their needs— creating campaigns tailored by strict criteria and based on groups seeing only creative material relevant to them—vastly increases the chance of a response from the user. This drives efficiency in ad spend and more effective campaigns.

During a recent webinar on personalization and OTT subscriber growth, we teamed up with some industry leaders to talk about the importance of personalizing digital experiences to drive subscriber activation and engagement. It was clear that the most important aspect for any OTT operator is to understand the wants, needs and desires of every viewer around the world. Having this knowledge is critical.

In the early days of OTT most companies ran with the aim of being mobile first: that has now evolved into a need to think at the app and device level. It’s important to think about device penetration from launch and aim to be ubiquitous wherever your customers are to understand their consumption and behavior patterns.

Personalized solutions present a win-win for both the customer and provider. Customers get what they want, when and how they want it. For the provider, OTT delivery presents the chance to gain great insight by knowing where, how and why content is consumed. On what individual search engines are viewers looking for content? Can this be made easier, better?

You should constantly be asking yourself: What content do consumers want? How? When customers enter our digital ecosystem, what is the pathway of experience? Do they search and order content on mobile, then play it out on another device or platform? How can we make this pathway easier?

These facets should be universal aims for every business. Who wouldn’t want to know where and how its products are consumed? How to not only control quality and delivery of the end-product— in the form that is required by the customer—but also offer the opportunity to let customers interact with what they’re watching?

To achieve this, our customers leverage the NeuLion Digital Platform to analyze three sets of data. Watch data helps them understand what people watch, how much they watch and what they’re likely to watch. They can market to that customer a similar show or use their profile as a seed audience to target others “just like them.” Support data allows them to stay on top of technical or customer service issues and measure feedback and opinions on content. Support data helps predict who is likely to churn and target them with an offer that may help retain the customer. Billing data informs our customers of the buying habits of viewers, such as when they hit spending limits that move them from one tier offering to another. From here they can launch campaigns to reward loyal customers, activate dormant customers, upsell or even offer companion products.

Since we’ve been offering advanced personalization services to our customers, we have been more than thrilled with the results. Our customers can now give their viewers the ability to continue watching across devices, create their own personal video collections and quickly search curated video libraries. We’re seeing an uptake in subscribers and viewer engagement.

Additionally, research suggests that the sought-after Millenial demographic is more receptive to marketing offers than is generally imagined, as long as they are seen to be closely aligned and relevant to their needs.

The bottom line is that personalization is a key differentiator for OTT and TV everywhere services. As more and more services enter the marketplace, it is vital to provide users with a unique, individual experience that increases subscriber activations and engagement. These are not nice to haves; they are business essentials. There is tremendous competition for viewers’ entertainment dollars but the tools and technologies are there to play a winning hand.

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