How Engagement Tools Can be Leveraged in the OTT Space

Once you implement the right tools on your platform, you can engage your audience and ultimately grow your revenue.

When it comes to over-the-top (OTT) media services streaming platforms that rely on internet instead of satellite or cable an overwhelming amount of organizations are serving up extremely interesting content. But here’s the thing: content isn’t everything. Your audience is. 

In order to build tight-knit, engaged and profitable communities around your content, you need to spark conversations among consumers. So give people a great experience where they can discuss topics, form human connections and interact with one another, all within the context of your content. 

This, of course, all starts with on-site engagement tools

Once you implement the right tools on your platform, you can engage your audience and ultimately grow your revenue. In fact, we’ve observed that organizations with engagement and conversion tools can actually triple their ROI. 

That said, here are a few ways to leverage engagement tools in the OTT space: 

Get People Talking

If you thought that conversation tools (like real-time commenting widgets, live blogs and live chats) should be reserved strictly for blogs, you’re in for a bit of a shock. These types of community-building tools can and should be used on OTT platforms as well. 

Conversations matter. By generating conversations around your content, your audience will have access to a premium user experience.

Engagement tools allow OTT providers of all genres to facilitate a socially immersive experience, prompting meaningful connections between viewers based on content they truly care about. 

Take sports-streaming platforms, for instance. Organizations have a massive opportunity to open their content to real-time conversations around what sports fans are watching as they watch it. Live blogs can also be used to provide play-by-play updates on games and major milestones. 

Research has found that “71% of sports fans crave ‘deeper immersion’ when watching live games.” 

However, most consumers, not just sports fans, crave social interaction online. So make the most of their appetite for socialization.

By increasing the opportunities your subscribers have to talk to one another, they’ll begin to form regular habits, where they return to and interact with your platform.

Build That Community

Once you’ve added engagement tools to your platform, you’re ready for the next step: building your community through excitement and trust. 

Use your tools to generate buzz around popular personalities and content through interactive events, like Q&As or AMAs. This is a great way to promote upcoming shows, movies and videos right on your platform. Imagine the impact of having a celebrity engaging directly with your audience around your content.  

The trust between your brand and audience can be strengthened through these types of positive, engaging experiences. Trust is a highly important community-building element as it paves the way for brand loyalty. Compared to the experiences on social media, where trolls and bots run wild and trample over your valuable content, you can protect your audience’s experiences on your own properties through moderation

You can also grow your audience by highlighting model community behavior in comment sections. Or, you can leverage a moderated rating and review system. If consumers see helpful, accurate suggestions on what to watch, your platform can become a place where people come to read authentic reviews. 

“Operators that invest in functionality that maximizes fan engagement will see a 24% uplift in subscriber acquisition,” states Deltatre’s 2019 report

In other words, engagement tools in the OTT space can accelerate subscription revenue growth if used to their full potential. 

Understand Your Audience

Your audience data is important, but this isn’t new information. What you may not know is that it’s essential to look beyond the general insights you have on your audience demographics and size. Instead, understand the bigger picture by analyzing the complete behavior of your users. This can be accomplished by gathering first-party data from all on-site engagement tools and content.

Identify what anonymous users (your potential customers) and known users are doing all across your properties. As a result, you can get fully-formed ideas of what your consumers like and dislike. Use first-party data from your tools to improve the content and experience you’re providing by serving up more personalized or recommended content. 

While many OTT providers are looking at the customers on their platforms, they aren’t digging deep enough. They need to take their analytical efforts a step further by analyzing what audiences are doing in general and making strategic decisions based on that. 

For example, user data can enhance your conversion and retention strategies. Your engagement tool provider can also keep an eye on your audience’s behavior, and send signals to your paywall provider when they are ready to subscribe or are about to churn. If users are close to churning, which can be identified based on drops in engagement, they can be sent a special discount of content offer.

Whether you’re a sports media organization or host a unique video-streaming solution, engagement tools will allow you to build a community that thrives around your content in a sustainable way.

The State of Consumers in the Streaming Wars (and How to Win Them Over)

If you’re an organization that is knee-deep in the streaming wars, the one thing you should be laser-focused on to give yourself an edge over your competition is the very basic thing you seek: consumers.

By now, you’re probably no stranger to the streaming wars raging between old and new video-viewing services. From Netflix, DAZN and Amazon Prime Video to Disney+, Crave and everything in between, the fight for consumers blazes across the media-streaming industry. Which services are best set to win this battle? That answer is still very much unclear

If you’re an organization that is knee-deep in the streaming wars, the one thing you should be laser-focused on to give yourself an edge over your competition is the very basic thing you seek: consumers. 

It may seem obvious, and it is consumers are the foundation of every streaming service. They are the ones who will decide who becomes the top platform, and they are the engine that will allow their preferred services to become even stronger. So if you can get into the consumer’s brain, you will be able to use that to your advantage and stand a fighting chance amidst all the competition in the streaming wars. 

Want to know what consumers are really thinking when it comes to streaming services? Rest assured, because we’ve got the answers.

Streaming Subscription Fatigue is a Very Real Problem For Consumers

In October, a survey by TV Time and United Talent Agency dug into data from over 6,000 respondents in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. The results showed that people are getting overwhelmed by the abundance of subscription services that are either available or launching in the near future. 

While 85% of consumers surveyed in the study are already subscribed to one streaming service, only 42% of them expressed a willingness to pay for an additional one. Also, only 20% were willing to pay for two, and only 4% were willing to pay for three. 

With most consumers unwilling to purchase more than two or three streaming subscriptions at a time, it’s becoming a challenge for people to decide what services are worth paying for. In fact, 70% of those surveyed admitted that they felt there were too many options to choose from. 

By juggling several streaming subscriptions at a time, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that most consumers feel like subscription costs are getting out of hand. 

Due to all the video-viewing platforms overwhelming consumers, your best bet to succeeding in the streaming wars is to put your audience at the forefront of your business plan. Here are a few ways to do this: 

Prioritize Audience Awareness

With so many streaming platforms available, and so many more set to launch (Disney+, HBO Max, NBCU’s Peacock and Quibi to name a few), educating your audience is crucial to your success. 

Consider this: it used to be fairly simple to find past seasons of Blossom or Dawson’s Creek when there were only a few streaming services, but now the consumer needs to be a diligent search expert to find what they’re looking for. According to Forbes, “awareness is a first-step indicator to whether or not a consumer will subscribe.”

So be sure to clearly communicate and promote why your platform’s features and content library is unique from the countless other streaming services out there. It may seem obvious to you, but consumers are still unaware of many streaming services that are launching soon. 

Optimize Your Platform for Engagement

On its own, content is valuable, but isn’t enough to retain your audience.

Go the extra mile for your subscribers by embedding an immersive and valuable community experience directly on your platform. Use moderated tools like live commenting, live chats as well as ratings and reviews to build and connect that community of like-minded individuals together. Allow your audience to be part of the viewing experience, not just people who lean back and watch. 

By providing different ways to engage with your content and fellow audience members, you can encourage consumers to build loyal habits and lasting, meaningful connections to your platform. 

Know Your Viewers

We can’t stress the importance of your first-party data enough. When it comes to content-streaming services, understanding your consumers will help you to better serve them. And the best way to do so is with data.

Netflix, for instance, is constantly assessing viewer preferences to improve what content it presents. They even have a cultural anthropologist on staff to gain a deeper understanding of their audience. The result is a highly personalized experience that offers viewers an easier time finding shows and movies that interest them. 

Inc., a magazine for small businesses and startups, also reports that 61% of customers are willing to give their information in exchange for personalized experiences. And with the loss of third-party cookies, your best bet is to look to the data available on your own platform. 

So dig into the data from your content and engagement tools to gain insights into your audience’s behavior, and refine the content discovery and viewing experiences. This highlights how important it is for streaming services to have a vibrant and engaged community where their audiences discuss and share their likes, dislikes and real feelings about the content. 

“As content discovery becomes more of a challenge in this environment, we need to better understand viewership patterns across platforms and how to best serve people the right content at the right time,” says Alex von Kroh, the VP of a video data solution company.

The more personal and effortless you can make your consumers’ streaming experience, the more likely they are to be loyal to your platform. The ultimate goal is to make your platform part of their daily life, not just another transactional stop along the way.

If you aren’t focused on your consumers, they won’t be focused on you. 


RELATED: What We Can Learn From Pirate Sites

What We Can Learn From Pirate Sites

Currently, the internet is littered with pirate sites that offer viewers free, often illegal access to TV shows, movies, live sports and music. These sites also include audience engagement solutions to build invested communities. What consumers often fail to realize though, is that by streaming something for free, their seemingly insignificant action becomes part of a much larger problem: billions of people are contributing to digital theft. That theft is making it extremely challenging for content owners and legitimate streaming services to succeed. 

MUSO, an anti-piracy watchdog organization, found that just this past June the movie Detective Pikachu was downloaded a whopping four million times via pirate sites. That’s a potential four million consumers that should be (but probably aren’t) paying to watch the movie in theaters or accessing it through subscription services.

“It would seem that a lot of modern-day pirates are merely frazzled parents who wouldn’t dream of stealing their Friday night bottle of chilled Riesling from the grocery store but don’t want to pay the same amount to watch the latest TV phenomenon,” says Andy Chatterley, MUSO’s CEO. “Online piracy is like taking candy from a baby.”

Unfortunately, pirate sites tend to offer more than an often all-encompassing library of media: they’re also experts at providing a great user experience for their visitors. Streaming something illegally is almost too easy thanks to their audience engagement solutions. 

If media streaming service providers want to be successful in this highly competitive climate, here’s what they need to do before they can walk in the right direction: 

Leverage an Audience Engagement Solution

One area that pirate sites excel at is building communities around their content. While regular streaming providers can’t compete with the breadth of content found within pirate sites, they can do a better job at engaging and building their own communities.

Many of these pirate sites rely on commenting tools and comment forums like Reddit, where consumers often go to find illegal streams. Highly engaging conversations are then built as people say thanks to those who provide the streams as well as comment on the overall quality and content. By providing people with valuable content, and engaging them, pirate sites are able to convert visitors into loyal community members and advocates.

Some pirate sites also use commenting as well as rating and review tools to allow their community members to help flag bad or fake files. This helps to build up visitors’ trust towards these platforms and encourages them to return.

Although these pirate sites spark an impressive audience engagement solution, it’s mostly based on people exchanging ideas over what content is worth stealing — which is a type of engagement that you don’t want to have on your platforms.

So why not beat these pirate sites at their own game? Give people valuable content that is enhanced with opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations. In other words, giving them a platform to engage with one another will allow them to form relationships around the content that they like or dislike.

Streaming experiences can then be enhanced. Think about implementing moderated commenting tools, live chats for sports or event coverage, live blogging or ratings and reviews.

Audiences love viewing your content and love talking about their favorite content. Make sure both of those activities are happening on your platforms.

Collect Data to Personalize the Experience

When it comes to an audience engagement solution for streaming service providers, personalization is key to building a superior experience for consumers.

Take sports games, for instance. The ability to target content based on a fan’s favorite team or player will allow you to significantly improve their experience just by understanding their likes and dislikes.

Pirate sites are completely free to users, which also means visitors often don’t need to login or develop an account to consume content. Those who visit pirate sites even make an effort to protect their identities using tools like VPNs or incognito mode. As a result, the majority of their audience is anonymous. Their visitors also run the risk of being infected by malware as many pirate sites make money by allowing hackers to put malicious code onto their platforms.

And that gives media organizations an advantage: the ability to create a much more personalized and pleasant user experience.

First-party audience engagement data will help you to not only curate a highly-relevant selection of content for consumers, but it will also allow you to understand general behavior on your platform to inform your content, subscription and retention strategies.

As you get to know your audience’s interests and build loyalty-driving habits, you can also identify which users are no longer engaging with your content and are likely to churn. This information can then be used to send your known users exclusive content, a custom offer or discount to keep them invested in your brand.

Pirate sites aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So give consumers a compelling reason to dish out some money in exchange for your content.

Interested in learning more about audience engagement solutions? Then check out this article: Audience Engagement Data is About to Amp Up Sports Media.

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