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Step away from the screen – media organizations need to engage viewers outside of programming

Madan Sundararaju

Capturing the “journey” is a massive priority for businesses today. Whether it is a retailer trying to understand its customers or a manufacturer striving to streamline its buyers’ experiences, the journey concept is as pervasive as it is exciting.

This is the same in the media industry, as organizations look to innovate and understand their audiences at deeper levels. The realization here is that audiences have fleetingly small amounts of time to sit down and watch a show, listen to music, or enjoy a podcast. This means the data that will fuel aspirational, personalized experiences needs to be collected in new ways and also through sources beyond just Nielsen ratings.

Painting a better picture

Data – like from the newly released Capgemini Research Institute report on the modern sports-fan experience – is the paint media organizations use to build rich customer tapestries that inform and enhance content for every viewer. The challenge, however, is that audience data is limited when looked through a conventional lens.

Subscription or sign-up information provides basic demographic information on each customer, but successful personalization takes a lot more than that. When users sign up for Netflix, for example, the supply far less information than for example, users of a custom clothing service like Stitch Fix.

To augment this, media organizations can turn to third-party data sources to help fill out their profiles and better understand who is engaging with their content, when, and why. Furthermore, social media and creative partnerships around everything from cooking to credit cards can provide media companies with the insights they need to better understand their audience when they are not in front of the screen.

In sum, the first step to delivering the personalized, tailor-made content that modern audiences crave is collecting as much audience data as possible from as many channels as possible. Generalized Nielsen ratings and aggregate data are still important, but they need to be complemented with hyper-specific, granular data points that allow each individual’s desires to be known.

So, who exactly is tuning in?

This quest for media data revolves around one simple question: who is watching my content and why? With myriad data points to process and profiles to flesh out, this simple question often turns into a complex strategic, technological, and organizational nightmare as organizations struggle to answer it.

In our experience, an organization may have the data pieces to create brilliant user profiles and execute robust personalization initiatives, but if that data isn’t centralized, homogenized, and efficiently fed into the right systems of record, the initiatives will never take flight.

Be sure to watch out for our final entry in this blog series, highlighting how data centralization can and should be executed, and how organizations can position themselves to win in this new era of media.