The explosive growth of VOD and imminent saturation of the market is putting higher pressure on VOD platforms to stand out and get ahead of the competition. With so much content to choose from, subscription fatigue and the lack of long-term contracts, viewers have become whimsical. The cost of switching is so low they can cancel or slip to another platform without thinking twice.

VOD providers are on the lookout for novel ways to attract and retain loyal audiences to secure their slice of the pie and recurring revenues. And customer loyalty in a fierce market is invaluable. Without a personalized approach and great recommendations, even the best quality content won’t cut the mustard. Personalized recommendations account for as much as 80% of watch time on Netflix.

Content is king, but the lack of recommendations is content-killer

This crazy amount of content – even within a single service – is quite overwhelming to an average subscriber. There is now more content than they can watch in several lifetimes. This is why, to stay relevant on the extremely fierce and saturated OTT market, platforms must only show relevant content to the viewers. This boils down to consistently delivering the right content to the right audience, at the right time, and across all platforms and devices which they use to consume the content.

Good personalization is contingent on access to granular data on the viewers. To increase the chances that the person finds the content relevant and useful, crunch the viewership data and derive meaningful insights. This is where Netflix excels, recommending new shows that give unparalleled viewing experiences, and this is how Netflix built its dominance.

Your CRM can be integrated with a personalized video platform that generates personalized videos based on data about your users’ behaviour, such as the genres or categories they like.

Build richer personalization experiences by aggregating and analyzing data. For operators to balance their commercial goals with their users’ interests and preferences, AI and machine learning are necessary.

What is personalization?

Personalization is nothing new. The concept has been known in online marketing for some time, helping digital marketers drive conversion rates. A key benefit of implementing content personalization is that people react more positively to content that looks like it was prepared especially for them. It can be accomplished simply by using the person’s name in the message, or it can be accomplished more elaborately.

It is now possible to apply personalization techniques to video content and advertising. Videos can make content more valuable and relevant for recipients by using their leads’ names or other known data. For example, this can allow you to ensure you are not recommending basketball matches to a football fan, and vice versa.

The Netflix home page

The Netflix home page containing: a list of unfinished movies, a suggestion based on the preferred genres and previous activities, trending titles and a suggested category.

What are the sources of data for recommendations?

The OTT platforms collect a variety of explicit (expressed by the user, e.g., likes, ratings, watch later, shares, reviews, downloads) and implicit data points. Such data enables platforms to deliver better-personalized experiences. By analyzing content consumption patterns exhibited by look-alike cohorts and other input variables, OTT platforms can predict what users will watch most often:

Depending on the input variables, the predictions may be made based on demographics, time of day, nearby events, platforms, connectivity, and most importantly, the user’s and other similar users’ past behaviour.

In user opt-in workflows, data points from first-party and third-party sources are used to build user personas over time.

Dedicated platforms provide OTT platform operators with real-time dashboards to track their audience’s behaviour and indicators that can drive higher LTV (Life Time Value). 

Why do recommendations matter?

Data shows that, when done correctly, personalization efforts increase viewing and decrease user churn. For example, users who get recommendations based on machine-learned emotional fingerprinting can add up to three times more content to their watch. This adds up to 25% more started streams monthly.

Types of Recommendations in VOD

When adding AI-driven recommendations to an OTT app, it is important to consider the entire customer journey, covering all key points of interactivity. This covers:

Homepage Recommendations

Since users spend most of their time on the home page, a personalized one is a good idea. It improves the relevance of the content and drives better user engagement and higher play start rates. These recommendations can be organized into various sections on your homepage, such as Watch next and You may like. Real-time data or watching history can be used to make recommendations. Personalized homepage recommendations can give an 80-90% boost to the CTR.

Not Sure What to Watch

Recommendations based on the user’s preferred genre

You can provide recommendations based on viewing/listening history or real-time data. This makes relevant content more visible, resulting in more clicks and consumption. 

Pre-populated personalized playlists

You can personalize your users’ playlists based on their content, preference for a certain genre, and many more. The CTR can be improved by 80-110% on average with a personalized watchlist or playlist. 

Thumbnail personalization

Netflix is known for creating multiple versions of thumbnails on the home screen and trailers, and showing them to different demographics based on user personas.

Personalized Emails: In the case of personalized email, you create different audience segments or individuals who will receive different versions of your messaging. Email personalized recommendations can increase CTR by 60-80%. 

Personalized Notifications: Delivering highly personalized and contextual recommendations at the right time is another great way to connect with users. The effectiveness of timed push notifications lies in the fact that they capture the attention of users immediately. Therefore, you should send your notifications at the most appropriate time to ensure they capture their attention. 

Personalized ads

You can now display ads to each individual with the help of modern technology. By catering to viewers’ current interests and needs, content providers and advertisers can increase the value of the content. 

Personalized ad content is more relevant and valuable to the user, resulting in lower ad disruption and better conversion rates. Also, it can be expected that when the video personalization technology evolves, product placement and personalized messaging – rather than thriving in ad slots – may become embedded into the content.

Also, ads should appear alongside relevant content. Displaying ads in a proper context is a vital part of a successful ad campaign. OTT ads make it possible, allowing advertisers to stay true to their brand message and tone.

The wrap-up

It would be risky to leave it up to the user to choose what to watch next, given how much content is available today on streaming platforms. This matters especially in OTT platforms, when users use only a simple remote and would rather immediately see a list of all the most relevant titles on one screen and quickly start watching a show.

Personalized, relevant content is a must – it’s the standard, accepted and expected way of navigating through content in OTT devices.

While significant amounts of money are spent on content creation, service providers must invest in technologies to better promote and recommend their existing content to their users. Video personalization platforms can process insane amounts of data and gain insights not only to recommend content to the users better, but also to help them decide what new content to produce next.

Where to start?

Get in touch if you need a reliable software development partner to develop an OTT solution or help you integrate video personalization into your OTT platform. 

Our experts will be happy to discuss your project, helping you assess the services you need to become a future-proof OTT content provider. Then, with the support of the BSG development team, you can push the envelope of content, OTT service models, and viewing experiences.