We all have at least one streaming service subscription we peruse on a regular basis, scrolling to find that next series to binge-watch after a long day at work. But similar to what The Social Dilemma preaches (a documentary drama recently released on… you guessed it: Netflix), not all of us fully understand the impact personalization has on our digital lives, social networks and human behavior.
Streaming services are not only competing in a fragmented marketplace; they are also competing for your attention every waking second. To predict what a consumer wants to consume in every waking moment, you need a lot of data. But to make sure data collection enables you to see fresh, responsive content recommendations on your favorite streaming platforms, it begs the question: What personalization data can—and should—streaming services use to differentiate their platform? And How important is data privacy when watching a show in the comfort of your own home?
The future of streaming service personalization goes beyond the typical iOS pop-up recommendation or “Recommended for You” category when you first open a streaming app. Users expect streaming platforms to deliver personalized recommendations from the moment they log in—and in some cases, even when they are not logged in.
We recently conducted surveys with 700 participants to better understand the role of personalization in streaming services. In our research, over 70% of subscribers say they only engage with personalized messaging, and nearly 65% will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics. This need to deliver a fully personalized experience has driven brands to invest heavily in personalization.
As in-platform content recommendations are now the norm, brands have identified whitespace for more innovative personalization tactics, such as dynamic images and native videos and “viewers like you liked” displays. Paired with more data, better accuracy, and a push to leverage off-platform communications, the personalization engines of top brands are bound to only become bigger and better over time.
We cannot forget that streamers are highly distracted viewers. This means increasing scalable personalization across moments and channels is key to increasing the chance of platform-specific engagement. The better brands get at platform engagement, the more streamers will become unconsciously aware of personalization differentiation. Even though the next wave of personalization tactics may not be fully baked yet, we are beginning to see strategies in other industries that streaming services will likely adopt as their own:
- Mobility: It is no surprise the way users are streaming content has changed, and this directly impacts personalization investments. As streaming services continue to cater to an increasingly mobile customer base, brands will continue to invest in frictionless viewing experiences and a need to sync current capabilities with smart technology like Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub. We are heading into a territory in which streaming platforms can predict what you are doing, when you are doing it, and on what device (even before you realize it yourself!).
- Community: Friends and family networks have created some of the strongest bonds to-date. By creating interactive (and personalized) watercooler spaces to keep users engaged in streaming content, brands will be able to have greater influence over users and what they think on a regular basis. We have already seen media companies launch services like Netflix’s “Watch Parties” and Twitch’s “Just Chatting” functionalities, but expect to see more persuasive, community-based interactions underway soon.
- Transmedia: A fairly new concept, transmedia ties a brand more closely to streaming extensions users can take part in, such as playing video games, buying merchandise and signing petitions. By leveraging both transmedia and personalization, this gives brands a case to create new modes of engagement across channels and mediums. In effect, this model increases post-stream retention and early funnel, pre-stream adoption of additional content and functionality.
No matter how well streaming platforms deliver a fully personalized experience, the thorny questions about data privacy and transparency will always be underlying hot-button issues. As technology advances, more data is collected, and data accessibility is increased, brands will work to understand what level of data-driven personalization is justifiable to deliver gripping experiences. In the future, concerns about data privacy will not be solved by brands—but by the choices of media consumers.