The (data) revolution will be televised


Nothing like a really good TV show right? A story that draws you in, whether it's a 90 minute cinematic three-part experience or an eight series, 60 episode epic TV show. Watch it how you like; from one episode per week to think about the narrative, to binge-watching the whole series at once - sleep is only for the weak.

Look behind the scenes of your favourite show and viewing platform though and you’ll find the TV industry is now approaching ‘peak transformation’. The enabler for that transformation has of course been the high speed broadband rollout around the world allowing the explosion of IP delivered services. Now every aspect of the ‘TV’ business - from content, products, distribution and monetisation - is being transformed.

Data, in all its forms, is the industry’s digital transformation exhaust, then refined back into fuel.

So, going back to our TV show, the real value to the platform or service operator comes in what happens after the credits roll and you switch off. This is when all the consumer data from your viewing experience is collected together and made sense of - and this is where the real magic happens.

How to monetise a TV service

To paint the picture, let’s quickly build a new aggregated TV content service: It has premium broadcast content rights, licences for subscription and advertising, and is available in multiple regions on multiple devices, from big screen IP connected TV’s through to 5” screen mobile phones. Simple right?

(Well, not quite that simple, but that’s another story!)

There is growing evidence that one business model alone is not enough to appease CFO’s eagerly awaiting positive news on their businesses ‘digital transformation’ efforts. You only have to look at Amazon considering advertising for prime TV, or companies being present in every content window and building multiple services, like Viasat over in Sweden, to see this.

It would make sense that an operator of this multi-channel service might want to be able to accurately predict and repeat the revenue stream from monthly subscribers (viewers who pay a monthly fee to watch content), but they would also want their service to reach out to as many ‘non subscribers’ (viewers who may receive less content or receive advertising) as possible to build brand value and also make some revenue from that advertising at volume.

While each of the business models above are based around viewership, the monetisation of the “view” in each case is very different and informed by a huge amount of data collection and analysis.

So, how does the world of data platforms integrate with the world of TV? How do we simplify a world that is way too 'acronymed' and technical for a commercial leader to understand? How do we map through business benefit from data collection and ensure all teams get the right insight to power their goals?

To find out, let’s split our two business goals up and take a look at each of them independently.

Data management platforms

The two technology acronyms that are bringing all this data together and enabling the insight to flow into all areas of the business are the DMP (Data Management Platform) and the CDP (Customer Data Platform) . But, as with all acronyms, the real value is figuring out what each does for the corporate goals of a video platform.

Non-subscribers and Broadcast VOD services

Firstly, turning our attention to how we go about acquiring new consumers for our TV service and if they choose not to accept a subscription, looking at how an advertising funded service can maximise the revenue generated for a wide Broadcast VOD (video on demand) offering, is key.

Here a DMP is going to be most useful to our TV service as it will combine a lot of our goals together.

Using a DMP our service will be able to :

  • Acquire new viewers - Define an audience within the central DMP based around the characteristics of viewers already using the service, ‘Lookalike modelling’, and then send that audience out across video DSP (Demand Side Providers) , search, social and email at the same time.

  • Maximise money from video ads - It makes sense to roll in advertising to videos being played in a Broadcast VOD environment, but avoiding duplication and making them as relevant and targeted as possible with frequency capping should be the goal to hold viewer engagement. Using a DMP, sophisticated programmatic precise audience targeting of video ads is enabled at the scale required of a nationally viewed service. Thus, reducing wastage and maximising possible CPM values.

  • Promote content - By the same mechanism it is possible to target house ads or promo’s for forthcoming shows or events that are most relevant to the identified target audience segment. This makes promo’s less of a gamble across vast audiences and demographics and hits key viewership KPI’s.

  • Combine second and third party data - Audiences can be segmented even further within the DMP by combining second and third party data (data from another trusted and contracted company and from other data warehouses) to really dig into target profiles. For example, location data from a mobile publisher, media owner or in-app developer could be matched to information from lookalike modeling to target an offer form our TV service to a specific city or region.

Subscribed viewers

Now let's look at viewers who have seen the value in a subscription to your service. As soon as your hard earned newly acquired viewer logs in, they will begin to generate useful background data, masses of it in fact.

The CDP is ideal for this. It can use personally identifiable 1st party data to build a detailed single view of your new active consumer account and it’s activity.

Of course, the real value here is what targeted insights can be passed on to other areas of the business that enable them to hit corporate goals driven by the evidential data.

A CDP can return clean and complete datasets from multiple touch-points like connected TV sets, mobile and browser based activity to multiple departments. So, figuring out which parts of a data stream can impact a business is critical.

What does this mean in practise and what are the benefits it enables? Internally within the organisation, CDP data could be passed to :

  • Marketing to understand which content is working for which viewer demographic and location or context (time of day or device) and to push notifications for new high value shows. Also key here is the ability to use detailed profile segmentation to allow tailored offers and recommendations.

  • The content engagement team - In a world of viewing options, search results for content on video platforms is absolutely critical to get right, so centrally analysing the search terms that logged in consumers are using and which then produce viewing and therefore stickiness is vital.

  • Churn & ‘Win Back’ - A key goal is to reduce the percentage of consumers who move away from a video platform, percentages that are also generally higher than traditional Pay TV platforms due to more flexible contractual ‘breaks’. By understanding segmentation and lookalike modelling, churned viewers can be lured back by enticing offers or shows that viewers who fit their viewing profile are currently viewing back on the platform.

  • Distribution and licensing - to figure out when a piece of subscription only content might make more sense to pass to an ad supported format to enable maximum lifetime value from that asset to be realised (Intelligent content windowing)

As you can see from the above benefits, it isn’t a case of ‘which technology is the best’, it is more about 'what you are trying to achieve'. At SBDS, we believe that the answer is a combination and a blend of both technologies to maximise the benefit to overall data strategy. If you would like to read more about our independent view on it then please download our DataTech Report ‘DMP + CDP: friends or foe’


So in summary, data, originally only used in the TV industry to extrapolate viewing figures for TV ratings and therefore advertiser buys has now slowly but surely enveloped every aspect of the television & video business. We have also not even looked at the whole production and distribution process which can apply learnings from data at every single point within its lifecycle.

What’s more, as the measurement of out of home TV viewing is standardised and agreed within each country, we will see more big investment in Broadcast VOD services as the money continues its inevitable shift to IP delivery.

As you can see, the data collection surplus from the television and video business is constantly churning away and is prevalent all the way through licensing, commissioning, production, distribution, windowing, advertising and subscribing. It’s everywhere.

The real trick is how you use the data after you collect it, because, whether your business is ready or not; right now, at this very moment, the data revolution is being televised.

Drop me a line if you would like to discuss further!

Check out my LinkedIn too, to find out more about me and SBDS.



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