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How to Optimize Your TV Services With Personalization

When is too much choice just too much? These days, with an almost limitless amount of content to choose from, the issue is no longer ‘there’s nothing to watch now’; instead it’s more like ‘there’s too much to watch, how do I decide?’

After decades when TV channels broadcast specific shows at specific times, the OTT disruption enables consumers to choose when and how to watch, and on which device.

In this competitive environment, a major challenge for TV service providers is how to attract and retain viewers. Of the various approaches to do this, offering a personalized TV experience has been shown to be successful. Consumers are already used to a high degree of personalization in many aspects of their lives. Streaming music apps like Spotify and Pandora offer a personalized experience that recognizes the user, makes custom suggestions, and enables users to continue where they left off ― in the middle of a podcast, song, or playlist. These apps also offer custom playlists based on what the user has listened to or downloaded.

Navigation apps such as Waze allow users to build their own profiles, enter their home and work addresses and even collect points for posting notifications of heavy traffic and accidents. Online shopping sites cater to individual tastes, and each shopper is presented with their personalized page that displays previous purchases and recommendations, in addition to many other tailored elements.

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From the household to the individual

However, many TV packages are still geared to all users in their household and not to the individual. Most consumers find this approach dated. They expect a custom experience, with their own profile and standard features such as their name and profile picture at the start. They presume that the service will remember what they watched and enable ‘continue watching’ so that they can pick up where they left off.

They also expect appropriate recommendations based on their viewing habits; beyond suggesting content, they are looking for a service that really ‘knows them.’ This means that the service understands that they watch specific types of shows or movies and directs them to similar content at the right time. For example, someone who watches an action flick every weekend would appreciate knowing that a new action flick with their favorite actor will be available this upcoming weekend. However, someone who watches historical series nightly may appreciate daily updates about upcoming episodes.

Personalization, to be relevant, needs to go well beyond the content; to be implemented successfully, it must also consider the context.

AI and machine learning are advancing personalization

AI and machine learning are enabling more precise personalization. These technologies allow personalization at scale by processing the collected data, analyzing audience behavior patterns, and generating insights at speeds and volumes previously unknown. Advanced machine learning and deep learning systems are able to make predictions and decisions that take personalization to a much higher level. These systems are constantly evolving and adapting as customer profiles and the nature of their interactions change.

AI-driven technology can use image recognition and natural language processing to analyze scenes in pre-recorded content, such as Channel 4’s  Contextual Moments initiative in the UK. This technology produces a list of ‘positive moments’ that can be matched to a brand for advertising purposes. These ads can then be fitted for specific viewing audiences.

Loyalty and Unified Experiences

Obtaining viewer loyalty is based on many factors, and, of those, a sense of trust is key. According to Gartner, the determining factor in gaining customer loyalty is not how they view a particular product or service but “the level of trust they have in the organization as a whole and their likely intent to remain loyal.” Gartner also predicts that “by 2020, more than 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.”

Offering a unified experience on all devices and in all locations is a given – far more than just providing top-quality video on TVs, phones, and other connected devices, viewers now expect the TV service to recognize them in various situations and provide the same smooth experience. Whether they are halfway around the globe or signing in on a different device in their home, the TV service should recognize their profile, remember where they left off viewing a show, and provide the same interactions that the viewer is accustomed to performing.

Monetization through Personalization

For TV Service Providers, personalization also enables monetization opportunities such as targeted advertising. Using data-centric approaches, TV service providers can integrate ads that ‘speak’ to the viewer’s interests.

There are three main reasons for the growing popularity of digital advertising and why it is being seen as a relevant model for television: advertisers can really target the viewers ― people only see the ads that are relevant to them; ad buyers only pay for measurable and targeted impressions, and the entire value chain is completely automated.

Targeted advertising is part of a holistic approach that knows the viewer well and is able to personalize the experience from the moment the viewer signs in throughout the viewing experience, including the ads shown to them.

Promoting engagement by getting there first

Viewers who appreciate their personalized TV experience are more likely to stay with their current service – they understand that it takes the system some time to get to know them and they will be unlikely to want to start all over with another system. Therefore, it’s critical for TV service providers to be at the forefront of this new wave to attract new viewers and keep them engaged. Considering how expensive it is to acquire new customers, businesses are well-advised to put much effort into customer retention. Estimates of the cost of acquiring a single new customer range from 5 to 25 times more than the cost of retaining an existing customer.

In today's ultra-competitive TV industry, viewer choices are highly influenced by having a service that has developed and maintained a warm, intelligent connection with them. TV service providers must enable their organizations to leverage their data assets to their fullest and ensure an optimum relationship through a warm, personalized approach.

For more information about how to implement effective personalization in TV services, read our white paper “Personalized Television: How To Be The “GPS” Of Your Customer’s Content Journey.”

Einav Levi

Einav Levi is a Senior Product Manager, Personalization Domain. Prior to joining Viaccess-Orca she gained product management experience from several companies including ebay and several startups. She is an expert in big data analysis and product solutions and interacted with global Fortune 500 customers. Previously she led development teams focusing on big data algorithms and rich end user experiences. She holds MBA from Ben-Gurion University and Bs.C. in Computer Science from Tel-Aviv University.