How to win audiences and retain them…it’s a perennial pre-occupation in our industry, but it’s never before had the urgency that it has now. Why? Because the younger sections of the audience of today, (who will form the entire audience of tomorrow) are abandoning conventional, scheduled, linear TV as a form of entertainment.
So what is to be done? OTT and VOD are part of the answer, but this alone is not enough to command the attention of the generations whose lives are shaped by social media. They consume media with the same kind of interactions and sense of community that they find in their other online social activities, and they take to the mainstream social media sites to share comment and interaction on content they’ve seen. Their social activity has not been integrated into the viewing experience itself, and the broadcaster/service provider is therefore disconnected from this part of the audience’s activity.
Broadcasters and other OTT providers should not be content to let this situation rest, because they are ignoring an inexorable trend if they do. But since the recent launch of Vimond Connect, there is now an easy to implement technology for adding closely integrated social interaction facilities to an OTT service – regardless of when the content is viewed.
VOD viewers of a service powered by Vimond Connect can discuss content asynchronously, and experience this conversation as if it were a live discussion, with all the contributors watching simultaneously. All comments are time-stamped and appear only at the point in the content when they were posted. So if viewer A comments on an episode of a crime drama and viewer B watches it 39 hours later, she will only see his comment at the point in the action when he posted it. If she replies her comment is anchored to that point in the content for subsequent viewers to see. Viewer A can also see her reply even if he’s not using the OTT service at the time, and the conversation around a piece of content can therefore take place over an extended period. This closely integrated social media forum provides a way of interacting in a spoiler-free way, and it also generates data that is useful to the service provider, who can see in great detail what types of content – and what moments within the content – are driving the most discussion and interaction. The service provider can see not only that a program is popular with a certain demographic, but that interest peaked for a targeted sub-group within that demographic at 17:22 into the program.
With the Vimond Platform there is already the capability to ‘heat-map’ the whole program to provide advanced ways for advertisers to reach tightly defined audience segments. For example, in a cop show where a certain brand of car is featured, a hidden or explicit opportunity can be provided to click on the car to get more information every time it’s onscreen. This completely new way of interacting with the audience is unobtrusive, but very personalised.
Social media discussion and interaction is re-shaping the way the content is consumed, and media service providers cannot ignore this. By building a purpose-built facility for social interaction into their offering in a way that gives increased value to the viewers, they can allow the audience to experience content the way they want to, and they can use the data derived from social interaction around the content – and content consumption patterns – to maintain a closer connection to the audience in every way.
Helge Høibraaten, CEO of Vimond Media Solutions