M&E Journal: Digital Transformation Means Speed, Increased Expectations for M&E

By Suzanne Clayton, Principal Product Marketing Manager for Communications, Media and Entertainment, SAS –

Consumers want content all the time, 24 hours a day, all around the world. It is a tall order for M&E companies and a 180-degree shift from days past. With audiences binge watching OTT programming, this has put a huge strain on the entertainment ecosystem to create engaging storytelling, while also managing international distribution methods through myriad traditional and digital channels, and securing content.

Digital transformation creates an opportunity for M&E companies to have a one-to-one relationship with the end-consumer and to create more exciting overall viewership experiences. Storytelling and tailored experiences are what audiences seek. And millennials, who now make up over 30 percent of the population, are at the forefront of this content consumption on their mobile devices.

Taking a closer look at the studio entertainment business, we see two camps: the major studios (the incumbents) who have dominated the entertainment industry for many years, and the digital natives such as Netflix and Amazon. Meanwhile, new players continue to emerge with their own unique content, much like airlines that want to differentiate passenger experience.

The digital players have the great fortune of strong data management capabilities, cloud-based centralized data, sophisticated content recommendation engines, teams of data scientists and limited data silos. Everybody codes, and data and analytics are at the center of all decision making.

The incumbent studios, on the other hand, are working to overcome data challenges but still operate in silos with information residing in different systems and locations. Their strong desire for a holistic, data-driven view of audiences is compelling enough to make them take a new approach, however—one in which analytics, which are central to audience measurement and engagement, can help them be more customer-focused.

Using predictive modeling and data visualization capabilities, studios can better understand audience responses, predict future behavior and determine how audiences relate to one another. They can define the most valuable audience segments, and decide which variables most influence a segment’s behavior.

Consumer data is plentiful

Marketing represents a huge expense and studios often pay for marketing services to reach the same customers repeatedly—never leveraging the ability to have a direct relationship with the end customer. Studios are still very reliant on external third parties like agencies, but more powerful media mix modeling can to help tie studio marketing dollars to audiences. Today, thanks to online distribution channels and ticket sales, digital data about the end consumer is plentiful.

By applying better predictive modeling to this data, studios can gain the ability to better understand their consumers: Who are the best candidates for which titles? What geographies would be most receptive to which titles? These insights could generate enormous savings with more effective and targeted reach.

Studios are also looking to analytics for making predictions about content, anti-piracy data management to ensure content and data security. For example, they may want to better understand who will pirate a film online. Is it based on the movie genre? The countries it is distributed in? The format? Or the window of distribution? Using analytics, studios can predict and reduce piracy risk by understanding the piracy life cycle around a title and making more informed decisions about release schedules and content distribution.

Data security is crucial

On the data management front, strict U.S. privacy regulations around Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and the European Union’s General Data Protective Regulation (GDPR) are forcing M&E companies to implement strong data management and data governance policies for the fear of enormous financial penalties and negative PR. This is rippling through the digital players, as well, as all companies prepare for GDPR. Studios have data everywhere and need to figure how to leverage and secure it. And, they need to get the right data, at the right time, to the right people for timely decision making.

Moving forward

For M&E companies seeking to keep up with the digital players, it is important to democratize analytics and get more data in the hands of many with easy-to-use analytical tools to spawn innovation. This is being done on-premise and in the cloud.

SAS is helping multiple broadcasters and studios to build and grow their analytics culture through an Analytics Center of Excellence that spans all the data silos using multiple applications, including ones created using open systems.

It is also important for broadcasters and pay TV companies to marry different data sources including customer data, web logs, social media, set top box, ad servers, audience measurement and other sources. This helps to create more meaningful audience segmentation and targeting, more accurate ratings forecasting, greater insights for programming negotiations, and improves the overall customer experience.

On the privacy front, content and distribution companies must secure data and address stringent privacy regulations with data management, data federation, and data governance solutions.

Per IDC, companies going through digital transformation need to implement a third platform with innovation accelerators including: big data analytics, social, mobile and cloud.

In 2016, SAS released Viya, which is an open, cloud-ready analytical platform that serves everyone – from data scientists to business analysts, application developers to executives – with the reliable, scalable, secure analytics management and governance essential for agile IT. With the proliferation of open systems, SAS felt the market need for a common, consolidated and centralized platform for performing all tasks associated with the analytical life cycle – from data management and exploration to model building and deployment.

Emerging technologies like cognitive computing, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, IoT, 3D printing, and next generation security are coming quickly. M&E companies need to prepare for this wave and fast track analytics while continuing their digital transformation journey. While some of this sounds like an episode of the Jetsons, life as we know it is going to change as will when, where and how audiences consume content.


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