MAD Perspectives Blog

 Big Data Uncovering Audience

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 24, 2014

When thinking about big data, it's easy to get lost in the statistics and forget that this data actually represents people. It is an amalgamation of demographics, sentiment, issues, and interests. Big data is the combination of structured data captured by systems and unstructured data found online. When all this data is aggregated and analyzed, the goal is to gain a better understanding of customers, collectively or individually. Is it any wonder that the media & entertainment industry is hungry for data?

The symbiotic relationship that exists across the media & entertainment industry reflects the interdependencies each segment has on the other. Broadcasting cannot exist with advertising. Advertising cannot exist with broadcast or publishing. Studios and their theme parks reinforce key brands. All of them are focused on audience, which means they need data - and lots of it. Using TV as the example to prove the point, the underlying value of the TV audience is to enhance the value of ad inventory. In fact, the advertising industry's investment in big data is significant.

GroupM, part of WPP, announced the creation of a new unit to focus on data driven audience buying. They want to achieve sophisticated audience targeting by analyzing the highly granular data that is now available about what the TV audience is doing on and off TV. audience behavior on screens other than the TV now provides greater insight into audience sentiment and needs.  In addition, WPP has a pan-company practice called the Data Alliance that is responsible for helping brands and their agency partners connect diverse information sources.

However, big data is not just about audience as related to TV and advertising. Shazam, the mobile app that identifies the music and media playing around you, is using the data about what songs or media users upload, correlating that data with critics reviews (positive or negative) to make predictions about which artists are up and coming or what styles of music are appealing to consumers. The music industry is acknowledging the power of big data with three recent announcements that reflect the desire of the music labels to identify future artists - and subsequently new revenue.

Other participants in the media industry such as cable networks, satellite operators, communication service providers, publishing firms collect and analyze data to:

  • Improve media business insight into subscriber/viewer behaviors and preferences
  • Increase subscriber/viewer acquisition and loyalty
  • Exploit revenue opportunities across multiple distribution channels
  • Improve management of royalties, copyrights and content security
The bottom line is that big data, for media, is all about uncovering the audience. Investing in ongoing, deeper insight into audience behavior is critical to defining new revenue models and continued success. Without these revenue streams, the industry cannot continue to invest to meet the demands of its audience. It's a bit of a catch-22, but there is obvious commitment, from all segments across the industry, in collecting big data, applying relevant analytics and acting upon resulting business intelligence to influence content development, marketing, scheduling and distribution. And it all starts with the audience.

What's your perspective?