Data, AI and Privacy Set the Agenda

by Alejandro Rojas

It was a pleasure to attend the Cablefax Leaders Retreat earlier this month, and while I can’t reveal specific off-the-record discussions that occurred at the Ritz-Carlton at beautiful Amelia Island, FL, the experience got me thinking about three key areas that this industry must address: data, AI and privacy.

When it comes to data and data sources, think outside the box

The value placed on data is causing the industry-wide pursuit of much larger datasets and has become the ultimate driver behind the recent wave of consolidation. The prevailing logic seems to be: More data leads to a deeper understanding of audiences, resulting in better financial results. Though, I do not disagree, I do think that companies do not have to rely only on internal data sources alone. In fact, internal metrics have two significant limitations:

  1. They only provide a view into existing audiences, falling short of capturing broader market trends.
  2. They mostly focus on viewing behavior, leaving out other types of consumer behavior, such as the researching, commenting, downloading and sharing of content.

Therefore, the benefit of third-party data providers is that they can complement internal data sources and provide a much broader and more holistic picture of audience engagement. This is especially true in today’s age of multiple screens and multiple platforms, often used simultaneously.

Not all views are created equal

AI, as a technology, enables businesses to remain competitive and thrive. But ingesting more data is just not enough.

Capturing audience behaviors at multiple touch points that include viewing behavior, results in a much more complete understanding of viewers’ preferences. Embracing third-party diverse datasets can thus help companies discern the real value-add of their content assets and the most suitable monetization models to apply, both domestically and internationally.

Measuring the digital footprint that is created along with each viewing of an episode, including the “silent activities” from people who don’t post on social media, provides valuable insights into the elements that drive true audience engagement and loyalty. By analyzing the holistic view of consumer behavior, AI can help uncover the real impact that programming changes, marketing tactics, and other strategic levers may have on consumption habits.

Increasing privacy scrutiny

It’s clear that cable operators have faced regulations that have been more restrictive than those placed on most digitally native ad-dependent businesses (i.e. Facebook, Google) that ride on top of their broadband networks.

These digital natives have captured significant share of advertising dollars through their enhanced ability to push content to targeted segments. As privacy concerns get higher visibility, pushing content to consumers is going out of favor. As a result, content assets will increasingly be rewarded by their effectiveness to pull in audiences wherever they might be and whoever they might be. Fortunately, enormous amounts of data can also help understand the internal and external factors that make content successful. AI can be leveraged, no longer to simply identify a single user, but to draw conclusions from aggregate data to better predict content that resonates with specific audience segments; content that pulls in viewers who stick around.

My conclusions

These topics are obviously dominating discussions in offices and conference rooms every day — we are all laser-focused on the consumer and how to best serve them.

At no time in the history of our business has the consumer been more in the driver seat so it behooves us to address their interests, viewing preferences, and privacy concerns, while also being as predictive as we can about what will interest them in the future. By analyzing the datasets of both internal and external resources, combined with taking a more holistic view of viewers’ expressions of interest in content, seems to be the best tactic when setting a data-driven strategy that will address our biggest challenges in the increasingly complex multi-platform content distribution ecosystem.

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