By Mary Kay Evans, Chief Marketing Officer, Verizon Digital Media Services
Each year, as the NAB Show approaches, I find myself taking stock of what’s working in our industry and speculating about big changes coming down the pike. I always look forward to NAB because it brings together different parts of the industry; it’s an exciting event for both marketers and techies to talk about all the possibilities on the horizon. This year, these four big industry trends have been at the top of my mind.
For me and everyone at Verizon Digital Media Services, the past few years have been all about personalization, and I don’t see that focus ebbing any time soon. These days, quality alone won’t set a media experience apart; quality has basically become the industry standard. Instead, those who are able to deliver smart personalization for both programming and advertising will have the real competitive edge.
The logical next step is content intelligence, or taking the mountains of data around what users are watching and when they’re watching it and putting that data to smarter use. One important impact of this deeper engagement with data: it will allow industry leaders to move closer to true 1 to 1 marketing than ever before. For instance, viewers might get served an ad that features an item that just appeared on the show they’re watching, tying ads to content in a way never seen before. Studies show audiences don’t mind ads; what they hate are irrelevant ads. As technology continues to hone in personalized ad experiences, we’ll see not just more tolerance of advertising, but more actual enjoyment and engagement from viewers — a win for them and for the industry.
2017 will be the year mergers and acquisitions between huge corporations and startups change the game. Market consolidation between different organizations — each with specific capabilities — will make one-stop shopping the norm through single platforms that do it all, from coding and delivery to ad serving and personalization, not to mention analytics and content intelligence. As audiences become accustomed to seamless experiences, it’s important to make sure we have the means for quickly and efficiently serving content, and also the best tools for measuring the success of that content. That means having all services bundled together in one place.
Last summer, Pokémon Go was everywhere. As millions of people spent countless hours viewing the world through their phone screens, they were also proving that marketers and tech companies alike need to get in the game when it comes to augmented reality (AR). AR is different from virtual reality because instead of creating a computer-generated simulation of the world, AR layers digital elements on top of real-world experiences: for example, placing a Charmander in a Norwegian foreign affairs and defense committee session.
The world’s Pokémon obsession indicates AR’s potential for the future, and it’s easy to envision ways it could be applied to over-the-top (OTT) content — especially when united with a strong content intelligence system. What if a viewer could mouse over a scene of a TV show and see which stores were selling all of the characters’ clothes? The result would be not just a better ad, but a more immersive experience. Right now, the jury’s still out on how exactly the industry will incorporate AR technology, but I’m pretty excited about the possibilities.
A return to linear content (sort of)
The way we interact with content has changed dramatically since the days of families gathering around the TV set in the living room. Nowadays, viewing experiences are much more intimate, from teens watching their iPads in the car to busy parents catching up on favorite shows on their Roku TV after the kids go to bed. However, as content intelligence becomes a bigger part of the industry, we might just see a return to something a bit retro: linear programming. We know that autoplaying the next episode of a series encourages audiences to spend more time with content. The next step is creating not just personalized ads, but personalized content feeds for consumers.
Right now, content is all over the place. Audiences might have a half dozen apps on their phones, several content channels they visit on desktop and countless streaming services on their TVs. But the truth is, they don’t want to have to look for content across 30 different apps. The time has come for aggregating content and curating personalized channels that not only deliver autoplay for binge-watching sessions, but select an endless stream of personalized recommendations and pick up where viewers left off when they come back for more. It’s not only about 1 to 1 advertising: 1 to 1 content experiences are the future.
It’s remarkable to think about how far the industry has come in such a short period of time. And as we move closer and closer to peak personalization and making digital engagement a commonplace part of our real-world experiences, even more innovations seem to be on the horizon for the coming year. I can’t wait to see that innovation in action at NAB.
With contribution from the Hippo Thinks research network.