5 things that media companies should know about personalisation

Personalisation and data has become a very big deal in the broadcasting and publishing world. From 2017 BBC iPlayer will be a personalised and sign-in only experience, Sky Q promises fully personalised viewing, and newspaper groups such as the Guardian and News International are investing heavily in delivering a more tailored experience to their audiences.

It’s easy to see why these big players want to get in on data-led personalisation – tech savvy trailblazers Netflix and Amazon Video are showing them that the smart use of data can grow media businesses, and grow them quickly.  What we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceburg – expect to see more and more announcements on data and personalisation in the months to come from all the major media companies.

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At the Customer Framework, we know a thing or two about the smart use of data to personalise customer experience. We’ve been helping organisations in all sectors get better data, and get better results for the best part of a decade. With that in mind, here’s our top 5 tips for media companies as they start to get more personalised:

Always start with strategy not technology

Personalisation is NOT all about new technology!  We’ve talked to lots of companies across all industry sectors, and consistently the ones delivering the best results are the ones with a well thought through approach that’s got buy-in at the top of the company.

These companies started by working out how they wanted to change the way they engage with their audience, and from there decided what data (and perhaps technology) they needed to support that.

The ones who start technology first can, and often do, end up burning money on technology that never quite delivers.

Data is content curation’s best friend

These days, media companies talk a lot about content curation. This is the art and science of putting the right content in front of the right person. The problem most media companies have is that they’ve far more content in their lockers than any one person could ever consume. There is massive potential benefit to them in getting content curation right – or even getting it just a little bit better.

Most people are coming round to the fact that data is the key that unlocks good content curation. If you know what someone’s tastes are, you are much more likely to suggest the right content for them.  That’s why people like the BBC and Netflix have spent a lot of effort trying to personalise their digital offerings – how else can they make sure that petrol heads get pointed towards Top Gear and news hounds get Panorama?

Move from thinking about socio-demographic groups to thinking about individual audience members

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the way the media industry describes the people who consume its content isn’t satisfactory. Traditional socio-demographic segmentation starts to break down when you try to describe something as individual as a person’s tastes in TV or online content. You are assuming I don’t like classical music because I’m young? How dare you!

What the best media players have realised is that what’s needed is a way of understanding an individual’s tastes and using that to give them the best experience, regardless socio-demographics. They use data about individual’s behaviours, preferences and tastes to drive their strategy, not assumptions based on age, gender or class.

Start small and learn quickly

The really successful data-enabled companies test, learn, and test again. Our advice to companies starting out in data and personalisation is to define some hypothesis, run pilots, measure them properly and work out which gives you the best results. This is quick, low cost and by the time they have to make tricky decisions about building long term capability they have a good base of knowledge to work from.

Find out how your company rates, and what you need to do first, in our benchmarking study

The Customer Framework, in association with the IDM, is running a definitive study into how the broadcasting and publishing industries are using data to improve the experience they give their audience members. We’ll be finding out

  • How media organisations are evolving the way they interact with audiences in a data-driven, digital world
  • Where they are investing now and where they plan to invest
  • What they see as most important capabilities – now and in the future
  • Which capabilities give the biggest impact on company performance
  • Whether and how this differs by sector, by funding model, by geography, and by strategic focus

If you work in the broadcasting or publishing industry, we’d love to have you take part. By taking part you’ll find out how your company ranks against the rest of the industry, and as a participant you’ll receive a FREE white paper on the state of the industry (normal price £499).

Peter Kirk

Peter Kirk is a Senior Consultant at The Customer Framework, where he advises clients on the smart use of data to get better business results. Before joining TCF, he was Director of Marketing Personalisation at the BBC, where he was in charge of personalised marketing and data analytics.