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Big Data transformation and analysis will unlock the future of TV

The role of Big Data in the TV world is causing ripple effects around the industry, concludes GfK in its latest report, ‘Big Questions, Big Answers: Will harnessing smart data for audience analytics save the broadcast industry?’.

The role of Big Data in the TV world is causing ripple effects around the industry, concludes GfK in its latest report, ‘Big Questions, Big Answers: Will harnessing smart data for audience analytics save the broadcast industry?’. Companies are offering more subscription-based and registration services and collecting vast amounts of data about users, however, most of the potential is still going unused.

The paper explores the benefits of Big Data for broadcast and outlines the future it has for the TV industry. Key decision makers and executives from 14 media groups were interviewed, from companies that serve over 70 million subscribers and deliver content that reaches nearly a billion people every day.

“The potential offered by Big Data is immense. Currently, everybody is engaged in data experimentation and there is a lot to fight for,” said Niko Waesche, global lead of the media and entertainment industry at GfK. “There are some key questions and challenges around the use of Big Data, especially within a rapidly evolving TV consumption model. Our latest paper looks at how Big Data is being used in the real world specifically in our industry, and where Big Data will be headed in years to come.”

There is clearly a sea change happening around the type and quality of data that is being gathered and analysed, the report finds. Focus has moved away from ‘asset-based data’ – basic facts such as the number of subscribers, the number of pieces of content or the number of plays in a given time period. Instead, attention is moving to behavioral data, from panel based systems to real time, individual data on a much greater scale.
“Six months ago we were doing the basics. TV ratings, website numbers and topline social media numbers,” explained Philip O’Ferrall, senior vice president of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN). “Now we have a business intelligence team and the guy who runs it has a PhD in maths. Every stat we get builds value into a piece of content.”
A diverse and increasingly demanding TV audience has forced operators to move away from asset-based data to more powerful behavioural analysis to better understand and respond to the needs of content curators and advertisers.

Behavioural data unlocks new insights by capturing the who, what and when of the viewer, and places it in context alongside more traditional asset-based data such as plays and subscribers. Sky IQ, for example, collects customer behavioural data across all the Sky platforms, including online, and tracks profiles and interactions. It also integrates this data with outside data, including publicly available statistics, demographics and retail data. There are also partnerships, such as Sky Media working with Dunnhumby, a London-based research agency owned by Tesco, that tracks purchases by Tesco’s 17 million Club Card holders.

Another key finding of GfK’s report is that transforming and interpreting Big Data adds value. Large amounts of behavioural and asset-based data only becomes valuable through intelligent transformation and interpretation, enabling a better understanding of the audience and emerging trends.

Rahul Thappa, vice president of Data Analytics, Astro commented: “In a segmented, fluid content world, Big Data is uncovering valuable segments of viewers who were aggregated or went unmeasured by conventional measurement systems. Big Data is helping us quantify the impact of our content across formats, platforms and screens. Our team is relishing the superior granularity that return path data has brought to the organisation. We an now develop superior content solutions and advertising models to deliver effective business results both to Astro and to marketers.”

Many commercial advertisers are using Big Data to enhance their advertising sales. In the UK,Sky and Channel 4 are using Big Data with the aim of adding value to their current business processes and to deliver incremental revenue. For Channel 4 this has been implemented first on its on-demand VoD products but with a view to adding linear TV advertising over time. Big Data-enhanced VoD ad sales currently account for 15 per cent of Channel 4’s total VoD advertising inventory, traded based on demographically targeted information, the report states. In two years, Channel 4 predicts that as much as 50 per cent
of its total VoD inventory will be traded this way.

Sanjeevan Bala, head of data planning and analytics at Channel 4, says that these changes have resulted in “incremental revenue of between 30 per cent to 55 per cent depending on the ad product, compared to current VoD prices.”

The key is to use Big Data to plan and develop content that appeals to its customers, the report states. This should in turn attract more advertisers. Henry Tan, Astro’s COO calls this the “winning horse” strategy. “Advertising is like betting on the wining horse, so our focus is to give the advertisers more winning horses.”

The report includes insights from Astro, Channel 4, Digicel, Genius Digital, GfK, Liberty Global International (LBI), Magine TV, maxdome, Orange France, OSN, Sky IQ, UFA, Verizon and Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN).