What’s the next step for big data and the media?

Big data has created a lot of buzz in recent years and it is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data – large amounts of it at that – to inform business decisions, customer relationships and more.

Broadcasting is no exception- the evolution of big data has expanded and improved the tools and expertise we have available to process and extract value from large and increasingly real-time data sets. The media industry is able to take advantage of these tools, many of which are freely available open-source software which enable those in the industry to improve their services.

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This has a number of benefits in terms of increasing customer satisfaction, reducing churn and enabling broadcasters to more effectively monetise their services and content. In essence, if we have a better view of customer preferences, we are far more able to cater to their needs. These are just two obvious examples.

Customer experience is one area that is particularly benefiting from the effective use of big data. As big data analysis processes are refined further, the benefits to consumers and broadcasters will be amplified.

Viewing data, social media activity and content metadata can now be combined like never before to allow the industry to better understand their audiences and improve their relationship with them.

The upside of this is clear and simple – keeping customers loyal boosts revenues. Improving the customer experience has benefits for both the industry and customers; it is a genuine win-win.

If big data is all about delivering insights, one particular benefit that it can deliver is being able to improve the quality of human predictions. More specifically, it also allows us to effectively measure predictions over time. This has implications for how the industry monetises content as the successful utilisation of machine learning and predictive analytics will enable better ad and content targeting.

However it is clear there is a lot more to be done in this area; though the promise justifies the investment.

One area that needs our efforts is for the media industry to accurately capture data in the first place. Whereas some industries may see the processing of data as the primary problem, when it comes to broadcasting the opposite is the case. For example, terrestrial broadcast television results in relatively little data being collected, but this is changing with the increase in online viewing which generates a more comprehensive view of the viewer’s journey.

This is an industry-wide problem as viewing trends are leading towards more data being created over time. The technology to make effective use of increasing amounts of data is already in place, it is now a case of getting that data volume and from a customer trust and experience point of view, communicating to the entire chain why the data is needed.

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The immediate priority must be for those of us in the media industry to explain the benefits of sharing data. Without proper explanation of the benefits, consumers will be suspicious of the reasons underpinning data sharing and there will be a perception, whether it is the case or not, of an imbalance between who benefits the most from the exchange of information.

The result will not do media companies any favours in terms of reducing churn, increasing customer loyalty and effectively monetising viewers. It could do the opposite if not handled sensitively.

Big data shows a lot of promise, but what is clear is that its full potential is yet to be realised. The sooner it is the better.

Sourced from Steve Plunkett, Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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