MAD Perspectives Blog

 Data is the Legendary Needle in the Media's Haystack

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 11, 2015

Obtaining volumes of data can be a double edged sword. The media industry is embracing data, particularly consumer data, as the basis for validating investments and business models. Vendors at all stages of the media workflow are collecting data and emphasizing its value to their customers. But, collecting data without an understanding of how it will be used creates new problems, the least of which is storing all that data. The bigger challenge is figuring what they really want to learn from the data and then drive real, measurable value from it.

Imagine all the devices that now provide data: set-top boxes, tablets, smartphones, network routers, servers, storage....and more. Then consider all the data that is already surrounding any piece of media: descriptive metadata, licenses, contracts, schedules, algorithms...and more. And, we haven't even brought up the related social or digital data or the insights that are important to advertisers. There is data everywhere with just as many the vendors ready to help you collect it. And, they all directly or indirectly reference the all important consumer experience.

Even focusing on the consumer alone, means aggregating, correlating, and analyzing data from a plethora of resources. It's not enough to collect data from set-top boxes that reveals when and what a subscriber consumed. It's now a priority to assess their method and frequency of engagement with and around video. Content protection vendors will provide you with data to reinforce that derived from distribution channels. Did the subscriber start watching on one device and finish watching on another devices? How did they authenticate their access to content on their device of choice? How did this impact their level of engagement? The answers to these questions influence content production, scheduling, marketing, and advertising. Oh, and did I mention monetization?

Understanding preferred methods of engagement, will drive advertising models. What works on TV, does not work on a tablet nor on a smartphone. Yet, content must be monetized. It takes more than demographics to understand how to derive revenue for programming targeting the 18-24 year old audience. How does this audience respond to ad-supported content versus subscriptions? How do they discover the video programming?  As the saying goes, "it takes a village" to capture data from a variety of sources and develop conclusions that subsequently drive future actions. It may start with demographics, but the process quickly incorporates analysis of a variety of stimuli and resulting actions. What happened that caused a viewer to engage or disengage?

Defining what is needed from the data is critical. Is it about audience engagement or customer experience? Is it about content quality? Network performance? Ad buying? The more specific the goal, the better understanding of the right vendor to provide that data; and the more effective the data collection and analysis. Making sense of data can be like looking for a needle in the haystack. Is that how you want to define your strategy? Big data has the potential to help shape the future of the media industry, let's not forget that it's about more than simple data collection.

What's your perspective?