The Personalization of Streaming Services

One of the major complaints marketers have concerning TV advertising is that they are not sure how effective their ads are for several reasons: (1) it is unclear who is watching, (2) it is unclear how many people are watching and (3) it is not easy, if at all possible, to know if the target converted. For these reasons, TV is currently considered a mass marketing platform best used when targeting the general population for a mainstream product. Streaming services are clearly planning on tackling those disadvantages.

Whenever I access Youtube’s website without having signed in, I am prompted on multiple occasions to do so. Youtube wants to be able to understand who I am in order to recommend more relevant videos and to entice me to stay on the website longer and thus watching ads (and generate more ads dollars). Given that Youtube makes several billion US dollars each quarter for its parent company Alphabet, it is not surprising that other streaming services are starting to see the value and to introduce their subscription services.

France’s public broadcasting company, France TV, recently started prompting me to subscribe to their services (see below), as access to their service would soon no longer be allowed without an account. Given that the streaming services remains free, it may seem odd that France TV would insist that I and its other users sign up. Nevertheless, there are multiple advantages to having users identify themselves when using the service.

First of all, it allows the broadcasting company to understand how many unique users are using the service. It also allows the company to understand how their users are consuming the service : Do they have a small user base that is very engaged or a large user base that is less engaged? What are the shows that are typically watched by the same users? What is the potential of enticing users to use the service more (and thus view more ads)? With this extra information, the broadcasting company can improve its offering and provide recommendations to consumers to keep them on the service longer.

The personalized approach gives the users a better experience while allowing the company a look at how these services are being used. Moreover, by logging in to the account on all devices, the company is able to deduce what type of consumption is occurring: for example, is it family time in front of the TV or on-the-go consumption while commuting?

While the content on the mobile apps remains the exact same as what is streaming on the TV, thus the ads are not personalized like on Youtube, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ads during the programming eventually become tailored to the different accounts. Do you think that TV programming will adapt to the viewer or will that be too high of an investment relative to the potential return?

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