Show customers you get them with spot-on experiences

Customer personalization

By Michael Grier

Posted on 11-30-2020

Years ago, when I worked at TiVo, we had cutting-edge software and algorithms that let us predict what types of programs TV viewers in a certain household might enjoy based on their previous viewing history. But the algorithm couldn’t distinguish among different viewers who lived in the same household, and it couldn’t access useful data from sources beyond the set-top box.

Now, from a consumer’s point of view, my expectations have evolved. I want the companies serving me content to understand me as an individual, not as part of a segment or household. I like watching college football on TV. If I see a recommendation for a sports documentary, it piques my interest and makes me feel understood. But if a content provider tries to get me to watch a reality show about baking, based on something my daughter’s been watching, I feel annoyed. And if I’m seeing ads for Chef’s Table — a series I’ve already watched from beginning to end — I feel even more irritated.

Now more than ever, media and entertainment consumers expect deeply customized options. We all want increased control over the content we consume. We want it to be easy to consume on our preferred device, which may change from one moment to the next. And we want content providers to recommend content we’ll love. When brands give us the right combination of compelling content and a high degree of control, we reward them by making their content a part of our daily lives, paying for it, and sharing it with our friends and family.

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Show me you know me — as an individual

To meet the customer expectations described above, your organization needs to generate first-party data insights and use them to continuously improve the customer experience. The rewards for getting it right include higher engagement, greater loyalty, and more ad revenue.

Even if you have the data you need, turning it into insights you can act on can be challenging. When I talk to marketing leaders at premier media and entertainment companies, most of them admit their data strategy probably hasn’t kept up with the rapidly evolving landscape. A few companies, like Netflix, have raised the bar by delivering precisely tailored recommendations to individual consumers. And that’s putting a lot of pressure on everyone else.

By layering in second- and third-party data to get a more complete view of your customers, you can often accelerate the process of building deeper relationships. If you want to turn casual consumers into loyal viewers or listeners, you need to make them feel understood. The data it takes to create that kind of experience may be a combination of first-, second-, and third-party data.

For example, I consume a lot of news and sports content. If a content provider has limited first-party data about me because I’m not a frequent user of their service yet, they might be able to offer better recommendations by using data from second- and third-party sources to build a more complete profile of me. And since my preferences are fairly typical for my demographic, suggesting content to me as part of a “look-alike” segment — based on what other people like me are watching and listening to — could be an effective strategy.

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Companies with strong capabilities for managing first-party customer data are in a great position to partner with other companies that serve similar audiences. A media company could partner with a retailer, for example. Those types of second-party data models are becoming more common as new laws make it harder to capture, share, and use third-party data. While third-party cookies will be going away at the end of next year, third-party data will not. The model will have to evolve, but I expect that key players in the industry will figure out how to acquire and manage third-party data in a compliant way — and in a way that puts consumers’ interests first.

As a customer, I also expect you to send me relevant marketing content. Again, that means you need to tailor the content at the individual level, not the account level. If my daughter and I are using the same streaming service account and it’s attached to my credit card, I want you to send the promotional offers to me, not to her.

Entertain and engage me wherever I am

If you really want to make me feel understood, you also need to track my behavior across devices. If I’m streaming something on my smartphone while I’m on the train, and then I arrive at home, settle in, and sit down in front of the smart TV in my living room, I want to pick up the same show exactly where I left off.

Media and entertainment companies with online and offline properties have an opportunity to deliver tailored experiences that span the digital and physical worlds. If I’m an Xfinity customer, Comcast has a lot of information about what my family watches on TV, and they can infer what types of attractions might appeal to us at their theme parks. So if we visit Universal Studios in Orlando — after the pandemic ends — I’d expect to receive messages on my phone offering suggested activities, a meal discount at a restaurant we might like, and perhaps a coupon for merchandise that people with similar viewing habits tend to buy.

Some of the major sports leagues are currently taking a hard look at how they could be using customer data more effectively. Obviously, the pandemic has forced them to rethink the sports engagement model. They’re starting to explore new ways of keeping fans interested during the off-season or in an environment where the in-venue experience isn’t available. I’m excited to see how those efforts will pay off — for the leagues, the teams, and the fans — in the post-pandemic era, when fans will again be moving back and forth between digital and physical sports experiences.

Give me content that matters, when it matters

Delivering those seamless cross-channel experiences isn’t easy, but new technologies are making it easier to do than you might imagine. On the one hand, big media and advertising companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple are creating walled gardens where your data gets stuck in a silo. That makes it hard to bring together data from different channels and platforms, which is something you need to do if you want to fully understand your customers.

On the other hand, Adobe is approaching customer data management from the opposite angle. Adobe Experience Platform is an extensible, API-based platform that lets you plug in data from all the systems your organization uses to deliver customer experiences, as well as second- and third-party data. With all your data in one place, you can create dynamic, unified customer profiles and use them to deliver highly tailored experiences without building walled gardens. AI and machine learning capabilities let you turn data into actionable insights in real time — or at least near-real time — so you can offer content that matters, when it matters to your customers.

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Keep me coming back for more

Media and entertainment customers want to feel connected to your brand and your content. That connection peaks when you show you “get” them and that you’re committed to delivering content they love. That means customers can be guaranteed to see the most relevant and timely content at every touchpoint. Once you start delivering those spot-on experiences, you’ll be better positioned to build trust and loyalty — and deepen your relationship with customers who can’t get enough of your content.

To learn more about how Adobe Experience Platform delivers connected and relevant experiences, check out the video below:

Tivo spawned a generation of fanatics that redefined the relationship a viewer can have with television through the powers of a set-top box. The sophisticated methods media companies can use today to offer content tailored to individuals — through all of their devices — would boggle the minds of all “TiVolutionaries.”

Topics: Personalization, Analytics, Digital Transformation, Insights & Inspiration, Media & Entertainment, Experience Cloud, Marketing, Personalized Experience,

Products: Experience Platform,