Using Customer Engagement & Participation to Enhance Loyalty in the Media Industry

INTRODUCTION:

There seems to be rapid afforestation as far as the media industry is concerned. Many players battle for the eye-balls of the viewers and readers. In this jungle only those media and entertainment companies will survive that are able to effectively engage with their consumers to rapidly identify and react to the evolving demands and consumption patterns of end users.

To say that the media and entertainment (M&E) consumption in the last decade has undergone a paradigm shift would not be an exaggeration. The time when entertainment as represented by the media typically meant a few grainy channels on the television or tuning into limited stations on the radio or else gorging on news (that would typically be considered stale) from the newspaper or reading a book (hardcopy, mind you) seems like the choices of a bygone era. Those were days when outdoors were more welcoming. Today one is connected to the world through various hi-tech networked means. As the media has changed, so have its consumers.

The renaissance seems to have been driven by one single factor- advancing technology. The same technology that has ushered-in abundance has not brought the change in isolation, it also created cultural shifts. Consumers have realised their power and have become more demanding. Earlier they would adjust their lives according availability of content today the providers have to wrap around their broadcast and publishing according to the consumer convenience. Today, media has become location agnostic with the emerging popularity of tools like mobile phones that enable pulling of “media software”. The percolation of social sites has to be seen as a game changer. At any given moment people are exchanging notes with each other about media content and the death or survival of published or broadcast content are decided in an instant.

Consumers are finally unshackled themselves from limitations and are enjoying wider choices and expanded personal freedoms as far and media and entertainment are concerned. Along with freedom consumption has also significantly gone up. This has thrown-up a double edged challenge for the providers-great opportunity and significant challenges. In the era of power-shifts it is apparent that only those media and entertainment companies who enable themselves to rapidly identify and react to the evolving demands and consumption patterns of end users will thrive.

There is only one factor that can enable these organisations decipher complex customer requirements-information. The challenge is to sift through this information using analytical tools and gather intelligence that can be effectively deployed. Bottom line, ability to deploy intelligence and creation & sustenance of loyalty among its consumer will be the key differentiating factor that will enable media companies to achieve success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

There seems to be a thousand ways in which the consumer can access and enjoy diverse media and entertainment content due to its mass availability. The switching-cost is also low for consumers who want to switch to new content providers or media and entertainment companies. The biggest challenge in the media industry seems to be the fickle loyalties of consumers forcing them to identify ways of customizing content in compelling, highly targeted ways.

FACTORS SHAPING CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR:

CONTENT: Today’s consumers expect a spectrum of content granularities. Their expectations may change depending on the time, their device/network characteristics, and even their moods. This compels the providers to customise content so that fits within the media consumption patterns of the consumer.

TARIFF MODEL: Though certain content will always be paid for, tariff remains a contentious issue. The consumer want low fee for themselves and expects the companies to generate most of the content through advertisements. In reality lot of content especially on the online media are co-created between the company and the consumer. This challenges the companies to create higher quality, customised content and charge the consumer less for the same.

ECONOMICS OF ATTENTION: Today’s media market faces an irony. Despite abundant new digital content that has replaced earlier scarcities along with easy access the only scarcity that has emerged seems to have been that of user attention. For the content providers, getting user attention has been nothing short of a battle.

TARGETED EXPERIENCES: The evolution of real-time business intelligence is enabling mass-customisation of content and entertainment that delivers highly personalized and engaging experiences, consumers are demanding more.

COMPETITION: Media and entertainment companies have been forced into transitioning into non-traditional roles. Networks are delivering content online to consumers, bypassing traditional cable or satellite distribution; telcos are competing with cable via Internet Protocol television (IPTV) platforms; and cable companies are competing with telcos with voice over IP (VoIP). As Competition and churn increases, customer data analysis can provide competitive advantage for customer retention.

KEY IMPERATIVES FOR THE MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY:

ACCELERATED CONTENT DIGITIZATION: Analog is out and Digital is in. All content has to be in digital format so that it can be quickly edited, stored, combined with other digitized content and rapidly repurposed as needed.

IMPLEMENT END-TO-END WORKFLOWS: In today’s environment it is critical to have seamless collaboration from pre-production through post-production all along the value chain.

USING METADATA FRAMEWORK: Content needs to be tagged through a metadata framework which enables its easy location, identification & helps in determining digital rights permissions.

FLEXIBLE & EVOLVING BUSINESS MODELS: With media and entertainment consumption pattern undergoing rapid shifts, traditional business models are becoming obsolete and thus unable to fully capitalize on the available opportunities or counter threats in contemporary market.

TARGETED REVENUE MODELS: Revenue, predominantly through advertising can be maximized if consumption patterns could be effectively analyzed and identified. The organisation would be able to break down larger segments into interest-specific fragments and deliver truly targeted and less intrusive advertising.

ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT THROUGH USER-GENERATED CONTENT: The ability to actively engage its consumers and create a “connect” would give any media organisation the ultimate competitive advantage. It has also been identified that engaged customers have the propensity to be loyal. They consume more content, evangelize for content and services they like, and can act as a barometer for cultural and technological change.

DEPLOY ROBUST CONTENT PROTECTION: To maximise profit from content, piracy and unauthorized copying must be carefully controlled and digital rights must be enforced.

GUARANTEEING CONSUMER PRIVACY: In order to actively engage customers and to encourage incoming content in various forms (including comments, rating etc), it is important to assure that unauthorized dissemination of information or access to such information will be limited only to authorized audience. Thus implementing privacy controls have become very important-Sanjai Velayudhan.