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Creating the Video Shopping Mall

Creating the Video Shopping Mall

Ian Sharpe is CEO of Promethean TV, an online platform for monetizing video. For 2021 he believes that there has never been a better time for streaming services to start harvesting audience data. "Personalise viewing experiences means broadcasters can push relevant and contextual offers", he says in the mebucom commentary.

Ian Sharpe, CEO of Promethean TV:

What seems like an aeon ago, Netflix tore up the rulebook when it came to programming schedules and primetime, delivering entire seasons of its TV shows at once. Overnight, we became binge-watchers, guzzling down hours of television at a time of our choosing, not just when a network deemed appropriate. The notion of waiting for the next episode has become so alien, that, when confronted with old style linear releases, many people prefer to wait to watch in one go, at a time that best suits them and on their preferred devices.

This cord cutting phenomenon was clearly a major disruptor in the media landscape, leading to drastic shifts in the market and further digital transformation. So what’s next? How will these audience habits evolve? At Promethean, we believe it’s all about continuing to feed that impulse for “what I want, when I want”.

Locking in with video content

Viewing habits are now evolving even more quickly, driven by a myriad of “bubbles”. The global pandemic has underscored the long term structural changes of the broadcast industry. With ongoing social distancing measures, time that would have once been spent at restaurants or the movies is instead being spent on the sofa, hunkering down with video entertainment and viewing parties. The new ‘stay at home’ rules have meant online streaming is more essential than ever. It’s no surprise that a recent Global Web Index report found that over 80% of audiences have consumed more content since the outbreak.

Some broadcasters have tried to remain agile, shifting towards social platforms to create compelling and immersive content that engages consumers, finding their audience where they can. Sadly, these broadcasters are only hastening their demise, as their brands slide toward irrelevance while feeding the dominance of Facebook and Youtube.

Others have adapted their strategies by broadcasting modified content across VOD platforms and streaming channels - despite, or perhaps because of COVID restrictions, the audience’s appetite for live spectacle remains stronger than ever. The old adage “necessity is the mother of all invention” has ensured that music venues and sporting stadiums alike are starting to explore streaming content, only to realise the output is anaemic at best, devoid of passion and spectacle.

The trick is to curate an experience that is a viable substitute for “being there”. To tap into that impulse we all have while living in the COVID cage. We want it right here and right now.

Interactive video strategies

And that craving heralds the next seismic shift in our viewing behaviour. A video stream no longer has to be a one-way flow of information - with a simple touch of a screen, the audience should be able to engage with content and make watching active. Audiences can have the opportunity to vote in a poll, view stats, sign up for a service or provide commentaries. Moreover, they can buy stuff - order a pizza for halftime delivery, snag themselves the latest merchandise, snap up a VIP ticket to the next event. A good video interactive stream is a conduit to commerce. It is a virtual mall and stadium rolled into once.

With many people spending more time indoors, there has never been a better time for streaming services to start harvesting audience data, understanding both what they want to watch, and how it can lead to better engagement. Using data to personalise viewing experiences means broadcasters can push relevant and contextual offers, offering a new way to advertise that keeps consumers coming back for more.

Binge-watching as retail therapy

Ultimately, once viewers are locked in to the video content, they are in the prime position to engage with a brand and make purchases through an interactive ad, rather than leaving the video to complete the transaction. The ability to make a purchase while watching the video not only enhances a consumer's experience, it encourages them to act on their impulses.

Today’s audiences are quickly coming to expect these frictionless commerce experiences. It’s up to broadcasters and it’s brand partners to create the most seamless viewing, in order to capitalise on the rise of online video and convert viewers into buyers in the most natural way possible.

The Video Connoisseur

It is also clear that we are all not just passive viewers anymore. Armed with our camera-phones and drilled by Zoom calls, we all know what a good online video experience looks like. We tweak backgrounds and send emojis. Each and every bubble has become a broadcaster of sorts.

But that is just the beginning. There are huge opportunities to capitalise on the increasing awareness for digital platforms and boost engagement with viewers. This boom of video streaming services means broadcasters can get up close and personal with their audiences to create interactive and engaging experiences. Not only will this allow companies in this space to super-serve consumers, there’s even more room to improve ROI. Introducing interactive video commerce will allow broadcasters to acquire and monetise customers like never before.

The viewer is evolving, faster than most broadcasters realise. The only question is, whether businesses feast - or famine.

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