MAD Perspectives Blog

Data is the Legendary Needle in the Media's Haystack

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 11, 2015

Obtaining volumes of data can be a double edged sword. The media industry is embracing data, particularly consumer data, as the basis for validating investments and business models. Vendors at all stages of the media workflow are collecting data and emphasizing its value to their customers. But, collecting data without an understanding of how it will be used creates new problems, the least of which is storing all that data. The bigger challenge is figuring what they really want to learn from the data and then drive real, measurable value from it.

Imagine all the devices that now provide data: set-top boxes, tablets, smartphones, network routers, servers, storage....and more. Then consider all the data that is already surrounding any piece of media: descriptive metadata, licenses, contracts, schedules, algorithms...and more. And, we haven't even brought up the related social or digital data or the insights that are important to advertisers. There is data everywhere with just as many the vendors ready to help you collect it. And, they all directly or indirectly reference the all important consumer experience.

Even focusing on the consumer alone, means aggregating, correlating, and analyzing data from a plethora of resources. It's not enough to collect data from set-top boxes that reveals when and what a subscriber consumed. It's now a priority to assess their method and frequency of engagement with and around video. Content protection vendors will provide you with data to reinforce that derived from distribution channels. Did the subscriber start watching on one device and finish watching on another devices? How did they authenticate their access to content on their device of choice? How did this impact their level of engagement? The answers to these questions influence content production, scheduling, marketing, and advertising. Oh, and did I mention monetization?

Understanding preferred methods of engagement, will drive advertising models. What works on TV, does not work on a tablet nor on a smartphone. Yet, content must be monetized. It takes more than demographics to understand how to derive revenue for programming targeting the 18-24 year old audience. How does this audience respond to ad-supported content versus subscriptions? How do they discover the video programming?  As the saying goes, "it takes a village" to capture data from a variety of sources and develop conclusions that subsequently drive future actions. It may start with demographics, but the process quickly incorporates analysis of a variety of stimuli and resulting actions. What happened that caused a viewer to engage or disengage?

Defining what is needed from the data is critical. Is it about audience engagement or customer experience? Is it about content quality? Network performance? Ad buying? The more specific the goal, the better understanding of the right vendor to provide that data; and the more effective the data collection and analysis. Making sense of data can be like looking for a needle in the haystack. Is that how you want to define your strategy? Big data has the potential to help shape the future of the media industry, let's not forget that it's about more than simple data collection.

What's your perspective?

IP is the Future for Broadcast

Peggy Dau - Monday, May 04, 2015

My blogs the past few weeks have been discussing why big data matters and IP in the broadcast industry. The connection between these topics may not be obvious, but the point is that all data is critical to the ongoing success of the broadcast business, at every step throughout the creative, management, distribution and consumptions processes. The adoption of IP in the broadcast workflow is critical to obtaining data that will influence business decisions. Internet Protocol based networks provide a volume of data that informs and complements data obtained from other sources.

The use of IP is about more than delivery of content to the consumer home, it's about migrating the operational infrastructure for broadcast. This migration will take years, and broadcasters will likely deploy IP alongside existing SDI components until this components no longer function. However, like the telecommunications industry before it, the broadcast industry will benefit from the flexibility and insight provided by IP networks. These networks have been utilized, for years, to enable creative collaboration amongst editing teams, to interconnect business solutions to manage resources, supply chain, and facilitate the management of rights, licenses and contracts. But, IP did not penetrate the broadcast control room. It was acceptable behind the scenes, but it was not deemed reliable enough for live broadcast. 

Like all technologies, IP has evolved. The pressure is on for broadcasters to create more with less. The TV industry at large is going through monumental changes as an increasing volume of content is consumed online. This does mean that TV dead, merely that the business model is changing. As a result, broadcasters must become more nimble. This means adopting technology that is more cost effective and allows greater flexibility. IP networking is one element. Network providers like Cisco, have been penetrating the media value chain for years. They have long had a presence in cable head-ends. Now their opportunity expands to broadcast operations. Cisco was omnipresent at the recent NAB show with demos and announcements with Grass Valley, EVS, MLBAM, Imagine Communications, Globo, Adobe, Elemental, Signiant, Interra and Snell - reinforcing the relevance of IP to the future of broadcasting.

And, what about data? Well, solutions have long existed to monitor, manage and analyze IP networks and whatever devices are resident within them or attached to them. The introduction of IP networks into control rooms opens the door wider for software based solutions running on industry standard hardware. IP networks contain volumes of data about the effectiveness and efficiency of operational environments. IP networks are already providing audience insight with data about consumer behavior. They are also at the heart of analytics solutions capturing data from traffic systems, advertising platforms or rights management solutions. IP is at the heart of monetization strategies from enablement of workflows to the delivery of content to the aggregation of data. 

The roadmap for broadcast must include IP if only for the flexibility and scalability that it enables. But equally importantly for the interoperability it enables between creative, operational and distribution platforms - providing a true end-to-end perspective through the data aggregated at every point of the media supply chain.

What's your perspective?

Enjoyment at the Intersection of Broadcast, IT and IP

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 27, 2015

Complementing broadcast content with IP delivery and relevant data is the name of the game for audience engagement. Nowhere was this more evident than at the EVS booth at NAB this year. I first checked out EVS's adoption of IP a few years, when they launched C-Cast. This cloud based platform allows live content producers to expand the reach and relevance of their content by enabling delivery to any device, while enriching the broadcast content with data, social updates and graphics.

This year EVS took a big step forward with its focus on the #ReturnOnEmotion and a related developer contest. EVS itself has leveraged C-Cast in its FanCast solution which changes the in-stadium experience. Wherever fans are in the stadium, in their seats, seeking refreshments or in hospitality suites, they are able to enjoy live or near-live content on big screens or small screens.

Prior to NAB, EVS launched a contest inviting developers to augment C-Cast capabilities. The contest prize - the ability to demo their capabilities at NAB in the EVS booth. Brilliant marketing by EVS. Not only did they enhance their solution portfolio, but they enabled developers who otherwise would not be able to afford a presence at NAB, the opportunity to showcase their solutions.

Each solution reflected innovation at the intersection of broadcast, IT and IP. The foundation, is C-Cast, which EVS. All of the solutions leverage C-Cast capabilities to provide fun and engaging sports experiences.  

1. LiveLike - developed an blended live sport with virtual reality allowing viewers to step "into" the game with the ability to select different camera angles. For the sports fan who cannot be at the stadium, this is a truly engaging experience. I admit it was my first VR experience and I'm a fan! I can easily imagine avid fans adopting VR goggles and services to bring a new dimension to viewing their favorite teams. Honestly, I know kids who would have been fighting to use this technology during last years FIFA World Cup!

2. ChirpVision - brings mobile to life for in-stadium fans. Their fault-tolerant video streaming, with a less than 1 second delay, sets the stage for live or on-demand viewing of the sporting event. A clean, mobile-friendly, user interface, allows users to select camera angles, check social network activity, and enjoy VOD functionality such as rewind, pause and fast-forward. But, for ChirpVision, it's also about providing brands with a new channel for reaching fans. Their solution allows monetization of the video streams through display and video ad insertion.

3. Playrz - developed by Intellicore, is a fan centric app aggregating data and social content to augment live and on-demand video streams. Fans can find data pertinent to the real-time activity on the field. They can review and compare stats about teams and players, replay plays from different camera angles and interact with other fans. Already utilized at the FIBA (International Basketball Association) World Cup last year, Playrz gives the sports fan easy access to the information they crave during a game.

Seeing this intersection of technologies was compelling. Sports often leads the way in adopting and validating emerging broadcast technologies. And, EVS has long been engaged in delivery broadcast solutions to the sports market. However, they are taking their efforts to a new level by acknowledging the demands of the fans whether they are at home or in the stadium. By enabling content to be repurposed, in real-time, for consumption on IP enabled devices, with the added value provided by integration of statistical data and social feeds, EVS and their partners are helping sports teams, leagues and brands create richer fan experiences.  What fun!

What's your perspective?

Finally, IP Everywhere at NAB2015

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 20, 2015

Finally. Yes, the traditional broadcast vendors have finally accepted that the broadcast industry is accepting and adopting IP (internet protocol) networking as a means to collaborate, create, manage and distribute content. Grass Valley promoted "The Path to IP", while Imagine Communications (the former Harris Broadcast) has gone full steam ahead with cloud solutions for workflow and playout.  Others, such as EVS, has been incorporating IP networking capabilities into its solutions for at least 4 years.

I've always been concerned about the slow transition to IP, but I come from a background in high tech, where IT and IP are pervasive. Broadcast has had the challenge of migrating existing infrastructure, overcoming transmission concerns, and doubts about the reliability of IP. However, as is often the case, the needs of the consumer have forced the industry to see the value that IP can provide. 

Multichannel consumption is here to stay. Whether it is TV Everywhere or OTT, consumers are viewing content live or on-demand on their TVs, tablets and smartphones. Perhaps the delay in TV Everywhere (the ability to access and view your cable providers content anywhere on any device) is due to the doubts about IP networking. But that's just one piece of the value chain.

IP networks have been used for the distribution of TV content to the consumer home for almost 10 years. Digital workflows enabling the creation of video content have been mainstream for at least 5 years. Yet the adoption of IP networks for broadcast workflows has been limited. The argument is that IP cannot compete with SDI for live broadcasts. However, the transition is finally underway.

The big announcement at NAB2015 came from Imagine Communications. Their announcement with Disney/ABC Television Group about Disney's WATCH services, enabled by Imagine's cloud-based workflow and playout solutions is the industry game changer. When a industry heavyweight such as Disney, makes this kind of move, the rest of the industry is sure to pay attention. And, eventually, make similar transitions.

Without IP networks, this cloud based solution is not possible. Without IP, delivery of non-linear programming is not possible. Without IP, delivery to smartphones, tablets and connected TVs is not possible. Without IP, the aggregation of performance and usage data is more difficult. Without IP, the broadcast industry cannot innovate to fulfill the demands of its audience.

So, yes, I say FINALLY. It's about time IP is embraced by the broadcast industry! IP is more than networking, it's about infinite possibility.

What's your perspective?

4 Ways Data Matters for Media and Entertainment

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 13, 2015

Every industry has it's perspective on data. Yet, perhaps no industry will change as dramatically, as the media & entertainment industry, through it's use of data. This is an industry that has long been driven by it's "gut". Watch almost any Mad Men episode and see how Don Draper pulls a pitch out of nowhere to win the client. The "golden gut" has long been the driver for green-lighting projects in Hollywood (and elsewhere). However, the shift to data driven program development may be attributed to Bonnie Hammer at USA Networks. She systematically changed the way original programming was approved and pursued. However, their access to viewer data was limited - until they initiated a comprehensive multi-channel fan engagement strategy. Their adoption of second screen tactics to engage with viewers has given them keen insight into fan sentiment. 

More recently, the champion of data driven content is Netflix who have access to volumes of subscriber data that they aggregate, correlate and analyze to identify and validate project development opportunities.  But is the use of data by the media and entertainment sector limited to that data related to their audience? This may be the most talked about use of data, but there are others. Data is critically important throughout the the process of creating, managing, distributing and consuming content - especially in this age of digital workflows.  

Where is the data? It is everywhere. It is around the creative process, the business process and the actual consumption. Every aspect of data is directly or indirectly related to monetization.

1. Content Creation - This is where the "magic happens". Editorial teams collaborate to layer files, add graphics and special effects, incorporate music to create a finished product. They tag assets and create metadata to describe the asset. The metadata includes, but is not limited to, title, artist, composer, genre, encoding format, frame size, frame rate, bit rate and DRM properties. This data facilitates editing team discovery of assets to assemble new content or to repurpose existing content. Metadata stays with the asset throughout the media workflow and when it is stored or archived. Without metadata, the ability to create content and determine which content can be monetized becomes very difficult.

2. Business Management - Alongside the creative workflow, are the workflows to manage resources, scheduling, transmission, contracts, rights management and royalties. The data in these systems help to view, manage and control production costs. When content is available for distribution, platforms deliver solutions and data relevant to manage, track and monetize assets and related royalties payments, across multiple distribution channels. The complexity of the business processes, adjacent to the creative process, cannot be ignored. The data related to these processes is critical to the overall success in 

3. Distribution - The mandate to deliver content to consumers across a myriad of devices requires those service providers who own the networks to guarantee a defined level of performance. They must serve the needs of content owners as well those of their consumers. They must monitor and manage the quality of their networks. And, these measurements are data. They measure bandwidth, network performance, streaming experience, track video playback quality, audience consumption patterns and more. Data is captured, analyzed and shared with content owners.

3. Consumption -  This is the focus of the industry - creating and distributing content that will attract an audience. Whether it is a feature film or a sitcom, understanding the audience is key. They buy tickets and subscriptions. They are the potential buyers of products advertised by brands. The attention and focus on measuring audience is ever growing. Whether it is Nielsen, ComScore, Twitter, or other audience measurement solutions, the goal is to identify the volume, demographics and sentiment of a program's fans. This data ultimately drives advertising revenue which is also changing with the rise of data driven programmatic advertising. The increased adoption of OTT channels provides content owners with increasing sources of data about their consumers. OTT enables a direct relationship with consumers. Like Netflix, networks can benefit from a direct understanding of audience demographics and behaviors to understand which content, actors or genres appeal to their OTT audience. It can influence schedule, availability

Digital media has changed every aspect of the media industry and in the process increased the number of data sources. Data is persistent, voluminous and valuable at every stage of the media value chain. There are many more ways that data matters throughout the creative, business and distribution processes. Yet, this industry still relies heavily upon its gut. Perhaps this is due to the creativity that is a necessity. It will be interesting to see the balance of data and creativity. Data can validate investments. Data can reinforce strategies, but this industry more than others is dependent on creativity. Can all this data inspire creativity? 

What's your perspective?

Making Data Matter

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 06, 2015

It really is the overarching conversation across all business sectors. Data. It's always been there, but we seem to have fallen in love with data all over again. We've been using it since we were in elementary school. We've collected it at every point in our life. We absorbed data about which friend liked the same sports team or what color shirt they wore or what time they ate dinner. We align ourselves with those of similar interests and seek out those with opposing opinions, if only to debate or educate.

Completion of our education did not stop the data deluge, it only changed its form. In fact, some of use decided to become analysts or scientists that steeped themselves in using data in new and fascinating ways. We are no longer memorizing multiplication tables or historic dates, nor are we organizing arguments to support theses. Now we are absorbing data about our industry and its people, processes, products, technologies, tools and communication methods. We manage a LOT of it instinctively. However, the rise of BIG data reinforces the relevance of data and the technology industry for all sectors, whether they are financial services, healthcare, consumer products, hospitality, travel, manufacturing, environmental - ok, you get it. Big data is applicable and pertinent for all industries.

But, how do we make all that data matter? I collect data points every day as I work with clients to develop strategies and content that reflects their value to their target customers. This means understanding their customers' needs, communicating in a manner that resonates with the customer, while still reflecting the key attributes of my client's technology. It's not always easy finding and collecting the right data. All that data doesn't always makes sense. It can be confusing.

This is why we are now seeing the focus grow beyond data collection and analytics. We're going to learn a lot about predictive and prescriptive analytics in the coming months. These are the magic 8 balls of the big data industry, thus far. They are fortune telling at their current best. If we can anticipate the needs and behavior of our customers, we can improve how we address and fulfill them. We can adapt business processes, modify go-to-market models, refine marketing and ultimately, improve revenue and profit margins.

That's the holy grail - make the data matter. But it's just not that easy. I have technology clients managing data, analyzing data, manipulating data and making recommendations borne from data. In the media sector, Nielsen reports data about what we watch. Ooyala shares data about how we watch. Cisco reports about how many bits move across networks. Bay area start-up Guavas provides data on the health of those networks. These are all indicators that should be acted upon. We are all awash in data and I, for one, am eager to see how we make this data really matter for business customers and consumers.

What's your perspective?

Big Data - Is It Worth The Money?

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 30, 2015

Every organization seems to be prioritizing their need for data. Small or large businesses, finance, accounting, sales, R&D and marketing - they're all seeking data. But, are they willing to pay for it. We could argue yes when  IDC predicted Big Data would drive 16.1B in revenue for severs, storage, software and services, in 2014. But that's just the infrastructure. What about the analytics to understand the data? 

Let's consider the use of data as it relates to marketing. Of course, it could be used for R&D, manufacturing, sales and other aspects of business. However, there is an interesting shift in marketing, with CMOs increasingly investing in technology to better under understand their customers and to manage their marketing programs.

Marketing executives all prioritize their need for data analytics to drive smarter campaigns and improve personalization. Yet, when it comes to prioritizing budget, e-Marketer says analytics falls behind digital commerce and customer experience. However, according to the CMO Survey, this is about to change. While marketing analytics currently accounts for 6.4% of the overall marketing budget, this is expected to increase to 11.75 over the next three years. 

It's not unusual for the budget to lag behind the defined need. After all, why spend the money if it's not aligned with your business goals. The interesting thing is that the data analytics could drive more effective digital commerce and/or customer experience investments. The global marketing analytics market is expected to grow to $2.1B by 2019 according to marketsandmarketsThe big question is if that investment is worth it. It comes down to more than analytics, as there must be a human element that capitalizes upon the finding. But, the reason analytics is hot, is the promise that data analytics can improve marketing ROI. 

Here are just a few examples:

  •   - understanding customer use and engagement of different mediums allows marketing to optimize use of channels such as email marketing, social media, webinars
  •   - identifying customer needs allows marketer to develop relevant content at every stage of the buying cycle
  •   - uncovering audience personas and motivations allows marketers to align messaging, agenda and/or sponsorships at business conferences 
  •   - align human effort more effectively 

Marketing budgets represent approximately 10% of the overall corporate budget. Isn't it worth the investment in analytics to uncover the data that will can lead to a tangible increase in marketing ROI? 

What's your perspective?

Consumer Tools Inspiring B2B

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 23, 2015

I've lived in a B2B world my entire career. Sure, some of the products manufactured by my employers end up in the hands of consumers, but my positions were always focused on the enterprise. My concerns were always about how business would deploy and utilize products. My interest was and continues to be how to deliver solutions that solve a business challenge. In the past, many of the technologies developed for business, were adapted for consumer use. 

However, we've moved past a key tipping point where consumer behavior is actively influencing enterprise solutions. I don't mean their buying behavior. I mean the dramatic shift in how we as individuals share and consume content. Social networks evolved as consumer centric platforms to connect students and friends. Each new social network that emerges is focused on what millennials and Generation Z want to share. Is it text, images, video? Where and how do they want to share it? Are they concerned about privacy? Yes? No?

As each social platform emerges (hello Meerkat!), we are exposed to yet another method of communicating. For businesses, the lesson is to understand which of these methods makes sense given their productions and solutions, and most importantly, the needs and behaviors of their audience. Landor predicts 2015 as the year that B2B trumps B2C in social media. In what year will the volume of B2B apps surpass B2C apps?

Enterprise applications, such as CRM or ERP, are all under the gun to become apps. The difference being in how users interface with these enterprise critical applications. New businesses are emerging that offer these functionalities and others as apps. They must be accessible on the employee device of choice (BYOD, yet another sign of the consumer impact on the enterprise) and provide the required information on demand, while also allowing for content upload.

If you think this it is crazy that a consumer centric solution can change enterprise behavior, look at how hiring and recruiting models are being turned on their heads thanks to LinkedIn. Or, how differentiated itself with integrations to Facebook and Twitter and then incorporated social monitoring and sharing.

I've heard arguments that these consumer inspired tools are not relevant. I've heard the statement "oh, i don't need to worry about that - i work in an office." But I will hazard a guess that even with many of the big tech companies pulling employees back into the office, the demand for ease of use, ease of access and ease of sharing, will not dissipate. If you want to know the future of how corporate america will function, pay attention to consumer trends!

What's your perspective?

MWC2015 Where Mobile and Media Collide

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Mobile World Congress is not the train wreck that the title implies. In fact it's the long awaited convergence of two industries. 15+ years ago telecoms, or communication service providers, began readying themselves for the delivery of video content. The focus was on the deployment of content delivery networks, enabling the caching of popular webpages at the edge of the network to ensure rapid deliver to consumers.

Fast forward to 2015 and the default expectation for video of the internet (OTT). We would be lost without Netflix and our annual binge viewing of House of Cards. And, its consumption on devices not imagined 10 years. But, the real sign of industry convergence is happening this week in Barcelona, Spain. I'm not attending, but I've been to Mobile World Congress many times. What began as an event designed to bring together the technology ecosystem relevant to the mobile industry, has broadened its appeal over the past several years. Whether it was intentional or accidental, or perhaps a bit of both, it is an acknowledgement that mobility is all about the content. Just as TV and internet have been all about content since the their respective inceptions.

The mobile ecosystem used to be limited to network equipment providers, IT company with operational and business support solutions, telecom providers and device manufacturers. Then Apple introduced the iPhone. I was in Barcelona that year. I remember how many iPhones surreptitiously crossed the Atlantic to find homes with colleagues who did not yet have access to this miracle device. Apple solidified a concept which had been bubbling for years - that of apps residing on the phone. With their closed ecosystem, this concept finally took hold. And, content enablers, social media innovators and hollywood execs started showing up at MWC.

For me, this was the tipping point for media colliding with telco. Now, content creators were interested in MWC. Now there was talk of managing increasing data volumes on wireless networks, not fiber or copper. Today we watch video on our smartphones. tablets or fabulist, video chat with friends and family, and capture pictures and video with phones with image quality as good as point & shoot cameras. We share content from our phones via messaging, email and social networks.

App development is a big business now. Whether it is for games, health, business, finance, sport, lifestyle - there is an app for that. Major media companies have developed apps for accessing their content just as the service providers enabling delivery of that content. Social networks must have a mobile strategy or the markets will punish them.

This year's event addresses all the hot trends: wearables, the Internet of Things, devices, and all of the BIG data related to all of those topics. What is the result of the collision between telecom and media? Flexibility. Accessibility. Freedom. Creativity.

What's your perspective?

Big Data Loves It When You Get Emotional

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You know the saying, "it's either laugh or cry". We've all been in those situations where we choose which emotion to express. In fact, in business it's considered poor form to be too emotional. However, those emotions are at the heart of all this big data that's floating around. In the media space, where companies large and small are collecting, aggregating, analyzing data in order to pontificate about the likes and dislikes of their audience, emotions are critical. It's not enough to have 23 million viewers. It's better to understand what they enjoyed or hated. 

The media industry has always been focused on making an emotional connection with its audience. Just look at the run-up to and the aftermath of the SuperBowl. We all know this is not just a game. It is big business for advertisers. GoDaddy created an ad that generated a lot of negative feelings. Whether it was planned or not, they pulled the ad and replaced it with another ad - equally annoying in my opinion but successful in making me take note of their brand. Budweiser continues to tug on our heartstrings with their puppy + Clydesdales storyline - to further cement the position of the brand as a warm and friendly.  

The benefit of the data coming from social networks is that it reveals sentiment. Sophisticated algorithms have been developed to assess whether a statement is positive or negative. Data scientists extrapolate terminology and identify trends. While social media and online behavior provide context in data analysis, that context is more than about what might have influenced a tweet or other social update. It is about the emotion expressed in those updates. 

Live programs are evolving to incorporate audience sentiment into their conversations. Real-time decisions can be made to abandon discussions or investigate "hot" topics more deeply. Reality and scripted TV benefit from the stories portrayed on screen as audiences develop emotional connections to the characters. While data analysis allows producers to better understand audience emotions and subsequently guide their social engagement and promotion strategy. 

Face to face we can read body behavior. Online it can be difficult to detect emotion, which can lead to misunderstandings. This is one reason why the emoticon has become so popular. Aside from being a fun way to quickly express an opinion, they help others understand our moods. 

Consider the ongoing quandary at Facebook about adding a dislike button. We've all wanted a dislike button, especially when we want to reinforce a friend's negative opinion of something. The challenge is understanding the business impact of clearly expressing a dislike. 

Is there business value to being emotional? Yes, there is! So, go ahead get emotional.

What's your perspective?