MAD Perspectives Blog

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 4 Ways Data Matters for Media and Entertainment

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 13, 2015


Every industry has it's perspective on data. Yet, perhaps no industry will change as dramatically, as the media & entertainment industry, through it's use of data. This is an industry that has long been driven by it's "gut". Watch almost any Mad Men episode and see how Don Draper pulls a pitch out of nowhere to win the client. The "golden gut" has long been the driver for green-lighting projects in Hollywood (and elsewhere). However, the shift to data driven program development may be attributed to Bonnie Hammer at USA Networks. She systematically changed the way original programming was approved and pursued. However, their access to viewer data was limited - until they initiated a comprehensive multi-channel fan engagement strategy. Their adoption of second screen tactics to engage with viewers has given them keen insight into fan sentiment. 

More recently, the champion of data driven content is Netflix who have access to volumes of subscriber data that they aggregate, correlate and analyze to identify and validate project development opportunities.  But is the use of data by the media and entertainment sector limited to that data related to their audience? This may be the most talked about use of data, but there are others. Data is critically important throughout the the process of creating, managing, distributing and consuming content - especially in this age of digital workflows.  

Where is the data? It is everywhere. It is around the creative process, the business process and the actual consumption. Every aspect of data is directly or indirectly related to monetization.

1. Content Creation - This is where the "magic happens". Editorial teams collaborate to layer files, add graphics and special effects, incorporate music to create a finished product. They tag assets and create metadata to describe the asset. The metadata includes, but is not limited to, title, artist, composer, genre, encoding format, frame size, frame rate, bit rate and DRM properties. This data facilitates editing team discovery of assets to assemble new content or to repurpose existing content. Metadata stays with the asset throughout the media workflow and when it is stored or archived. Without metadata, the ability to create content and determine which content can be monetized becomes very difficult.

2. Business Management - Alongside the creative workflow, are the workflows to manage resources, scheduling, transmission, contracts, rights management and royalties. The data in these systems help to view, manage and control production costs. When content is available for distribution, platforms deliver solutions and data relevant to manage, track and monetize assets and related royalties payments, across multiple distribution channels. The complexity of the business processes, adjacent to the creative process, cannot be ignored. The data related to these processes is critical to the overall success in 

3. Distribution - The mandate to deliver content to consumers across a myriad of devices requires those service providers who own the networks to guarantee a defined level of performance. They must serve the needs of content owners as well those of their consumers. They must monitor and manage the quality of their networks. And, these measurements are data. They measure bandwidth, network performance, streaming experience, track video playback quality, audience consumption patterns and more. Data is captured, analyzed and shared with content owners.

3. Consumption -  This is the focus of the industry - creating and distributing content that will attract an audience. Whether it is a feature film or a sitcom, understanding the audience is key. They buy tickets and subscriptions. They are the potential buyers of products advertised by brands. The attention and focus on measuring audience is ever growing. Whether it is Nielsen, ComScore, Twitter, or other audience measurement solutions, the goal is to identify the volume, demographics and sentiment of a program's fans. This data ultimately drives advertising revenue which is also changing with the rise of data driven programmatic advertising. The increased adoption of OTT channels provides content owners with increasing sources of data about their consumers. OTT enables a direct relationship with consumers. Like Netflix, networks can benefit from a direct understanding of audience demographics and behaviors to understand which content, actors or genres appeal to their OTT audience. It can influence schedule, availability

Digital media has changed every aspect of the media industry and in the process increased the number of data sources. Data is persistent, voluminous and valuable at every stage of the media value chain. There are many more ways that data matters throughout the creative, business and distribution processes. Yet, this industry still relies heavily upon its gut. Perhaps this is due to the creativity that is a necessity. It will be interesting to see the balance of data and creativity. Data can validate investments. Data can reinforce strategies, but this industry more than others is dependent on creativity. Can all this data inspire creativity? 

What's your perspective?