Everyone knows that we are living in a data-driven world. Most people interact with numerous digital services and applications on a daily basis and each of these capture immense amounts of information about their users. As cloud solutions become increasingly affordable, it has also become easier for companies to store the data collected. The world of OTT video services is no different. At Accedo, we have helped deploy hundreds of video-centric offerings, all storing a massive amount of intel about their users. However, across the OTT industry, companies are often falling short in fully utilising data to make the right business decisions.
The illusion of the perfect video service
Our industry is immature. And as with most industries that are still in their infancy, people tend to generalise and make assumptions about customers and how they behave. As the industry matures, we will also develop a deeper understanding of users; how they behave differently, appreciate different things, and respond to different messages.
Many OTT providers mistakenly believe that by copying what has already been done by the market leaders, they will create a “perfect video service” and hence also achieve maximum customer satisfaction. As a result, they often end up with something bland and generic, which fails to truly engage users and entice them to come back. I believe that it’s possible to both deliver better consumer experiences and enhance communication to improve engagement, retention, and ultimately revenues from a video service. In a recent market survey commissioned by Accedo, a whopping 85% of industry executives say that they are either likely or very likely to experiment with the user experience in a bid to harvest intelligence on usability and engagement.
Making use of data to understand your customers
So, most video executives seem to agree that there is a need to experiment in order to improve engagement. However, according to the same market survey, only 27% of respondents say that they’re currently using data to decide how to adapt the user experience. My conclusion is that there is certainly a lot of experimentation going on, but the evaluation of success is based on overall usage (or more qualitative user group studies) instead of the underlying user data. I also guess that UX adaptations are often reliant on the Product Team’s opinion rather than on real customer insights.
I understand why this is the case. These teams are passionate about their services and want to create the best user experience possible. However, they will always attempt to do so from their own perspective. They will make decisions on design and optimisations, based on what they like and how they will use the service, rather than the customers they are trying to reach and monetise. Sometimes these two perspectives will be fully aligned, but more often than not, the result will be missing key behavioural aspects from the end user.
Understanding that consumers don’t behave consistently
Most e-commerce experiences are infrequent. Consumers visit an e-merchant on a weekly, monthly, or in some cases even annual basis based on a specific need that they are looking to fulfill. This means that these companies have to quickly capture the attention of users, leveraging their entire tool kit to convince them to make a purchase.
For a video service provider this is different. They need to find a way to simultaneously help a first-time user understand what’s available, while convincing a frequent user to prolong their latest binge-watching experience. To make things even more complex, that same frequent user may sometimes not be interested in watching the next episode of a series, looking instead to browse and discover other content available on the platform. In any case, the objective for the video service provider will always be to increase consumer engagement and satisfaction. The more engaged a customer is, the smaller is the risk of churn.
The key to tackling this lies in understanding and leveraging behavioural data. While every consumer is different, combining user data with behavioural data will make it easier for video service providers to plan and execute experimentation. They can turn behavioral trends into actual adaptations of the user experience, consulting the data to see which initiatives lead to actual increases in engagement.
Measuring success over time
The key to success is user engagement. This does not necessarily mean the number of visits per month or even the amount of minutes watched, but how the consumers enjoy the overall experience of the video service. Each video service will need to consider the right metrics to measure their users’ engagement. Over time, you can create a metric for engagement that works for you, by analysing the data and tying things back to the end goals for your business, whether that’s subscriptions, advertising revenues, or something else. Once you know that, you will also understand what’s driving your engagement and you can start working on how to improve it.
You will surely need to update and tweak your engagement metric over time. Your service evolves both from a content and a feature perspective, but also from a user standpoint. Maybe the engagement drivers for early adopters are different from those of the mass market?
To conclude, I believe that the OTT video industry has only just begun its journey to really understand user behaviour and how to drive engagement. Together with our partner Jump, Accedo is working to create the right connection between insights and actions that will help video services succeed in a data-driven world.