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It used to be relatively easy to track content engagement. At first, it was simply a case of counting the number of tickets sold for a theatre show or cinema release. Then TVs were introduced into households and Nielsen Ratings were used to extrapolate what was being watched. In today’s world, people consume content in various ways, through satellite TV to video-sharing (YouTube), paid-streaming (Netflix) and social media platforms (Instagram).

Content producers and distributors have always understood the value of capturing audience data, but only in the last few years has this data started to separate the winners from the losers. For example, the data that Netflix captures as we casually scroll and select which show to watch provides an immediate feedback loop. It not only allows Netflix to display appealing content to individual audience members, but it also means they can create new content that they know will resonate. For example, the hit series House of Cards was based on the knowledge that political dramas and particular actors were popular among viewers.

The rise of streaming platforms

A fair few media companies have created their own streaming platforms, e.g. BBC iPlayer and Sky Go and, more recently, Disney+ and Apple TV+, in large part so that they can own their audience data. It could be argued however that while this is a sensible strategic move, they are only building and relying on one data touchpoint at the expense of many others.

Relevant data is out there in many forms. Content-sharing platforms like Facebook and YouTube have established ways of measuring audience engagement, such as how much of a video is watched, while the emergence of platforms such as Twitch and TikTok are providing new touchpoints. The challenge with these new touchpoints is that the task of media attribution becomes increasingly difficult, i.e. which initial touchpoints resulted in the content actually being consumed? Difficult to determine, but not impossible.

Tracking your audience between platforms

Most media companies are not joining the dots between multiple platforms and content distribution points. Marketing teams have been struggling with this challenge for years in the form of sales attribution. Yet while it’s not a perfect practice, it brings enormous benefits, including greater clarity on the return of advertising spend.

Taking a simple example, to one media company it may appear as if money is being burnt advertising new content on YouTube. But if this company is able to attribute a significant portion of its paid-for content views to these initial trailers on YouTube, then it shows its money is being well spent – and may even warrant increasing advertising spend in this area.

Many large companies have an established data science team that can find these answers, but they require the right problem statement and a hypothesis to test. Often, they are being given the wrong brief or focusing on the ‘known-knowns’, for example, audience behaviour on a single platform, rather than recognising the blind spots, such as audience behaviour across multiple platforms.

Connecting the dots

At Gate One, we understand business strategy and we speak data science. Once we understand your business strategy and the data you have available, we work with your data science team to shape the hypotheses and draw conclusions from the findings. Such findings still have limited value unless they drive change. Insight should lead to innovation.

This is where we will propose a roadmap to ensure you’re realising the value of all your data points, turning this data into the fuel that drives your business strategy. Maybe that’s broadening your audience, getting increased engagement from your existing audience, or converting more of your audience into paid viewers. Get in touch and we would be happy to discuss.

Simon Michel

Our team harnesses the power of technologies to help set you up for future success in an ever-changing world.