Data-first approach improves audience experiences and drives advertising revenue in the streaming world

Madan Sundararaju
July 6, 2021

Video-on-Demand (VOD) is the future

It is not a surprise that streaming/Video-on-Demand (VOD) is the future. Once led by the millennial generation in their younger days, VOD is now mainstream and for all ages. More and more content is being streamed now, from popular TV shows and movies to high-value entertainment such as premium sports, game shows, and new movies.

The trend of cord cutting and the move to streaming were well underway before COVID; the pandemic just accelerated it. The numbers speak for themselves: subscription-supported VOD (SVOD) is overtaking pay TV in more than 30 countries. After growing 38 percent in 2020, the global VOD market will grow to over $200 billion by 2024.

Media companies see the opportunity and are launching their own VOD platforms. In a span of one year between 2019 and 2020, seven new players launched VOD services in the US market alone, including big names like Apple TV, Disney+, Peacock, and HBOMax.

The pandemic forced many large media players and content owners such as Disney (ESPN, FOX, National Geographic, and Pixar), Discovery (Discovery, HGTV, Warner Brothers, TLC, Animal Planet, and HBO) and even smaller players to develop their own direct-to-consumer VOD apps. This allows them to have a direct relationship with consumers
Conversely, bandwidth providers such as Comcast, Charter, Cox, AT&T, and Verizon have developed their own direct-to-consumer apps and are expanding beyond fixed-address services. As content owners and distributors challenge traditional media and linear television, we see these options declining amid a simultaneous increase in direct-to-consumer content consumption.

While there is massive opportunity for media companies to establish a direct relationship with the end consumer, companies also face significant fragmentation in a highly competitive environment where we expect leadership and dominance to be pervasive in the foreseeable future.

Users now access content through on-demand, advertisement supported VOD (AVOD), SVOD, and gaming. Customers are actively switching between streaming services. There is intense pressure to keep customers engaged as switching costs are lowering, leaving service providers facing high customer churn while battling for relevance, pricing, and differentiation.

Even the biggest VOD players, such as Apple, Google, and Amazon, do not have unlimited capital. They must leverage strategic assets and choose their battles carefully. We see six types of battles playing out in the market.

Rights holders vs distributors: Dominant rights holders are keeping content for their own VOD platforms, and puling titles from other platforms with little or no notice. This leaves distributors producing content to protect themselves.

Traditional players vs new giants: Tech giants are entering with seemingly unlimited financial power, but massive funds don’t guarantee success. Spending $150 million per season doesn’t always deliver good reviews from critics.

Broader content base allows smarter ad targeting: Netflix and YouTube have created more of a retail marketplace model by hosting third-party content producers on their platforms. It allows players to decentralize content production and reach a variety of demographics in the battle to own multi-generational households. Compared to traditional television content targeting the whole household, this is a significant differentiation. When ad targeting is based on profiles, it is more meaningful to the audience. Conversely, poor or inappropriate ad targeting can result in subscriptions being cancelled and channels being blocked. The great power of VOD comes with great responsibility as customers now expect appropriate targeting. There is a lot more money to be made when it is done correctly.

Privacy changes are significantly impacting ad targeting across the board: Many companies get nonlinear value from VOD by expanding their “first-party identification” within their “walled gardens” that may comply with privacy laws, thus allowing richer ad targeting. Companies where VOD is their primary business may have a higher commercial bar if they are not able to get non-linear or secondary revenue from their first-party identification and loyalty programs beyond VOD. Conversely, companies which have adjacent businesses can multiply benefits of their VOD and customer base through their adjacent businesses.

Local vs global players: Many global players have scale but need to understand local markets and preferences for successful expansion. On the other hand, we see local players increasingly teaming up to overcome the scale challenge.

Opportunity for aggregators: There is significant fragmentation of VOD players in the market. This provides an opportunity for aggregators to reduce complexity.

Eyeballs are shifting to streaming, and so are ad dollars. Audience fragmentation makes SVOD extremely challenging on its own. How many $10 subscriptions will people sign up for? Advertisers are increasingly shifting to AVOD streaming.

Furthermore, the legacy ad agency model, where intermediaries bundled advertisement slots into large multimillion-dollar contracts based on ratings and time of day, are getting smaller as the industry moves towards targeted and data-driven digital advertising. Comparing digital ads to linear is like comparing a physical newspaper ad to a Google ad. A physical ad blasts the same message to an entire consumer base with rapidly declining readership. A digital ad offers curated audiences and even direct personalization to target specific users. The performance and price per digital view are exponentially greater than the ratings-driven spray and pray of the legacy era.

Media companies are battling for digital dollars while consumers are increasingly seeking ways to block or bypass advertising that is not personalized and relevant. Unlike general digital advertising, VOD players know who the customer is and personalize content and ads while maintaining compliance with privacy requirements.

These major industry disruptions mean advertisers, services providers, content producers, and agencies are in a state of flux. Their ability to transform and become digital in the very near term will determine their success and survival. While content is still king, there are other VOD success factors, such as:
– Content and ad relevance at the micro level beneath a household
– User experience on the platform
– The brand
– Data as an important pillar for differentiation and, ultimately, survival.

How a data-first approach can change the game

Harnessing the power of data and AI, companies can deliver highly personalized content and experiences across linear, digital and VOD media to gain dominance. However, very few media companies are fully data augmented or data powered. This is especially alarming when it comes to media companies in the marketing and ad space, as that drives over 40 percent of their revenues.

AI-powered content personalization

As VOD provides access to a large and ever-increasing amount of content and channels, consumers are also expecting personalized content and personalized ads. Machine learning algorithms can analyze thousands of variables to deliver personalized and highly targeted content and ads. Targeting the right ads to the right personas and at the right time is a balancing act and can maximize engagement and customer-lifetime value. Reaching the target audience across linear, digital, and OTT with accuracy and precision helps maintain a positive user experience. At the same time, it enables advertisers to reach their marketing goals, increase response rates with the same ad spend, and fuel investments for additional premium content.

Multi-tenant data analytics platform with multiple use cases

Capgemini’s 360-degree data-analytics platform uses AI and ML to generate critical data within operational systems and holistic insights on consumer behavior, inventory, and forecasts. Built on a foundation of a sophisticated multi-tenant, multi-use-case data cloud, it serves 90 percent of the organization’s data and AI needs. Media companies can achieve better yield management, inventory pricing, audience engagement, and campaigns across linear and digital properties, platforms, and business models.

Many companies complicated their architectures over the years and set up technology siloes to serve each combination of use cases with discrete platforms. Our analysis shows that such companies with simple-complex architectures are spending 40 to 70 percent of their energies copying data back and forth between systems and silos and 30 to 40 percent of analyst time explaining variances between systems and silos. This inefficiency can be the difference between being relevant and a customer cutting the cord.

The future is streaming and VOD. As the pressure for revenue growth mounts, we have discovered that simplifying the data estate into a data cloud that can handle the complexity and scale to support high-velocity data sharing provides significant revenue-generating benefits for media organizations.

Write to us here, to discuss your current data-estate challenges and how we can support you.

Our authors

Madan Sundararaju

Expert in Media & Entertainment, Mobile