When does an abundance of choices become overwhelming? Nowadays, with an almost boundless array of content options, the problem is no longer “there’s nothing to watch right now”; it’s more like “there’s too much to watch, how do I decide?”

For decades, TV channels followed a set schedule, broadcasting specific shows at specific times. However, the advent of Over-The-Top (OTT) services has given consumers the freedom to choose when, how, and on which device to watch.

In this fiercely competitive environment, TV service providers face the challenge of attracting and retaining viewers. Among various strategies, offering a personalized TV experience has proven to be effective. Consumers have grown accustomed to a high degree of personalization in various aspects of their lives. For instance, streaming music apps like Spotify and Pandora provide a personalized experience, recognizing users, making tailored recommendations, and allowing users to seamlessly resume a podcast, song, or playlist where they left off. These apps also curate custom playlists based on a user’s listening history and downloads.

Navigation apps such as Waze empower users to create profiles, input home and work addresses, and even earn rewards for reporting heavy traffic and accidents. Online shopping platforms cater to individual preferences, presenting each shopper with a personalized page showcasing previous purchases, product recommendations, and various other customized elements.

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 revolutionizing the realm of personalization, enabling more precise and scalable customization. These technologies excel in processing vast datasets, analyzing audience behavioral patterns, and producing insights at speeds and volumes previously unimaginable. With advanced machine learning and deep learning systems, personalization reaches a new level, as these systems can make predictions and decisions that enhance the personalization experience. They continually adapt as customer profiles and interactions evolve.

AI-driven technology leverages image recognition and natural language processing to scrutinize scenes in pre-recorded content, as demonstrated by initiatives like Channel 4’s “Contextual Moments” in the UK. This technology identifies “positive moments” within the content, which can then be aligned with specific brands for advertising purposes. The resulting ads are tailored for particular viewing audiences, offering a more engaging and relevant advertising experience.

Loyalty and Unified Experiences

How to Optimize Your TV Services With Personalization
How to Optimize Your TV Services With Personalization

Earning viewer loyalty hinges on various factors, and among them, trust plays a paramount role. According to Gartner, the crucial determinant for fostering customer loyalty isn’t solely how customers perceive a particular product or service, but rather “the level of trust they have in the organization as a whole and their likely intent to remain loyal.” Gartner also forecasts that “by 2020, more than 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience.”

Providing a seamless and consistent experience across all devices and locations has become an expectation, extending beyond merely delivering high-quality video on TVs, phones, and other connected devices. Viewers now anticipate that their TV service will recognize them in various scenarios and maintain a consistent experience. Whether they’re halfway around the world or signing in from a different device in their own home, the TV service should readily identify their profile, remember where they left off watching a show, and offer the same familiar interactions that viewers have come to expect. This level of personalization and consistency is instrumental in nurturing trust and loyalty.

Monetization through Personalization

For TV service providers, personalization not only enhances the viewer experience but also unlocks monetization opportunities, particularly in the realm of targeted advertising. By leveraging data-centric strategies, TV service providers can seamlessly integrate advertisements that resonate with the viewer’s interests.

The growing popularity of digital advertising in television is attributed to three key factors. Firstly, advertisers can precisely target their messages to individual viewers, ensuring that people only see ads that are relevant to their preferences. Secondly, ad buyers pay for impressions that are measurable and precisely targeted, optimizing their return on investment. Lastly, the entire advertising value chain is streamlined and automated, reducing inefficiencies and enhancing cost-effectiveness.

Targeted advertising is an integral component of a comprehensive approach that thoroughly understands the viewer and personalizes the experience from the moment they sign in, throughout their viewing journey, including the ads presented to them. This level of personalization not only enhances the viewer’s engagement but also creates a more lucrative advertising ecosystem for TV service providers.

Promoting engagement by getting there first

Viewers who value their personalized TV experience are more likely to remain loyal to their current service. They understand that it takes time for the system to understand their preferences, and they are often reluctant to start anew with another service. Therefore, it’s paramount for TV service providers to be at the forefront of this new wave in order to attract new viewers and maintain their engagement. Given the high cost associated with acquiring new customers, businesses are well-advised to prioritize customer retention. Estimates suggest that acquiring a single new customer can be anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

In today’s fiercely competitive TV industry, viewer choices are heavily influenced by having a service that has established and sustained a warm and intelligent connection with them. TV service providers must empower their organizations to harness their data resources to the fullest and foster a strong, personalized relationship with viewers, ensuring continued loyalty and satisfaction.