Smart Content West: Data Experts Tackle AI Integration

LOS ANGELES — At the Feb. 27 Smart Content Summit Martin Wahl, Principal Program Manager, Azure Media Services, Microsoft, was beyond pleased that his presentation — “Microsoft Video AI: What’s In Your Content?” — immediately followed the keynote conversation of the day by executives from MoviePass.

Ted Farnsworth, chairman and CEO of MoviePass parent company Helios & Matheson Analytics, Inc. and Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass, had just finished sharing how they’re making use of the data from the nearly two million subscribers of the $10-a-month movie theater subscription service.

MoviePass is a perfect example of how you can take the data you can get from your users, “and line it up with ‘When did people tune away, when did people stop watching, what in the program excited the viewer so much that made the screen bigger?’” Wahl said during the panel presentation “Data, Marketing and Analytics: A New Paradigm.” “The data that we can provide looks at what was going on on the screen when this is all happening, and you know something about your [subscribers], something much more specific, that you didn’t know before.”

AI integration into data and analytics platforms are giving media and entertainment firms more insight than they’ve ever had before, and in turn, changing how content is being created and distributed, panelists said.

On the advertising side, AI integration is allowing advertisers to discover what works with viewers and what doesn’t, Wahl said.

Josh Wiggins, chief commercial officer for GrayMeta, said his company uses multiple machine learning services, and over the last six months has discovered that tagging faces, marking tag-words and language recognition are all secondary in terms of what’s most important for media and entertainment AI usage: “It’s about connecting back to the consumer, and we’re finding more requests that … tie into analytics systems, and we’re finding that marketers want this data,” he said. “They want to know why a show is doing well, why is a promo doing well?”

For international broadcast companies, for example, the use of machine learning tools to find out how different content performs in different regions, and, using social media data, give their marketing teams unprecedented insight into what viewers want, Wiggins said.

Greg Eansor, senior director of account success and acquisition for MicroStrategy, said that while the integration of AI and machine learning for media and entertainment has been slow, “it’s taking hold and taking off now.” Especially in the world of voice control for those who benefit from customer data.

“If you think about what’s happened, we’ve gone from [doing analytics] on the web, to doing analytics on mobile … and now we’re looking at voice. That’s where the customers want to go, they want to use Cortana, they want to use Alexa, talk to [devices] and have it do what you normally would have to do with a keypad,” Eansor said. “Customers are saying ‘Alexa, get me the top 10 titles for the international market, and tell me what the results are.’”

He sees the next level of AI integration will see media and entertainment firms not only better-locating variances with the performance of their assets, but being offered solutions by AI and machine learning on how to handle those variances.

“Get machine learning in there, to actually start getting you to the next level, where in the morning on the way to work you can have [the report] read to you as you’re coming into the office, and what the variance is, what the problem is, and what you need to do that day,” Eansor said.

Produced by the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), in association with the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council, Smart Content West was sponsored by Amazon Web Services, MicroStrategy, NeuLion, MarkLogic, SAP, Bob Gold & Associates, Ad-ID, DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, and the Entertainment Merchants Association.

On March 8, MESA will hold its Smart Content Summit East event in New York City. To register or for more information, click here.