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Media companies looking to extract and turn dark data into gold

Data is exploding virtually everywhere from the edge of the cloud to consumers’ devices such as mobile phones and Smart TVs. However, media operators and telecom companies are facing challenges at assimilating the treasure trove of data to reach the ultimate goal of data monetisation. Lara Tan sets out to unearth how they can mine this ‘new gold’.

As the 21st century ushers in the new era of Internet-of-Everything, data has become the underlying force that powers new technologies which unveil a new vein of gold for media organisations and telecoms. According to the Media & Entertainment Reinvention Study 2020 by Ernst & Young, market success will largely depend on the organisations’ abilities to utilise available data on their platform.

John Harrison, EY Global Media & Entertainment leader told APB+: “Data has always been important for media companies, but today’s volume and variety of data means that it’s not just an important enabler for media businesses – increasingly it is the business itself.”

However, a recent study, The Land of Data, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) identifies two roadblocks faced by organisations in the Asia-Pacific region when deriving the true value of data: the lack of right tools to mine and analyse the data, as well as the siloed nature of the data across organisations.

There are more than 80% of unstructured data, otherwise known as dark data, in any given organisation according to a Gartner’s finding. This makes extracting, mining, and analysing of data difficult and deters informed decisions.

“The amount of value sitting in that dark data is tremendous. Data is the new gold and our clients are struggling with how to mine it,” says Jorge Blanco, Advisory principal of KPMG.

ASG Technologies, an IT management and service provider, offers Mobius Content Services which readily classifies content to structured format – making it easily searchable for various business applications. Data can also be on-boarded into a Data Intelligence platform or Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool to generate more comprehensive information, trends and results about the data. This can result in higher customer success and faster business returns.

Praveen Kumar, general manager of ASG Technologies (Asia Pacific), suggests: “Apart from collecting the relevant data, turning it into actionable insights requires creating a correct Data Governance strategy, and the appropriate IT software to manage and enforce
the same.

“In the media industry, data is the key fuel of processes, which needs to be defined, designed, implemented and measured.

“Media organisations can transform the data gathered to actionable insights through digital automation, which will help them aggregate the data in a single place, allowing them to drive analytics at some point.”

Verimatrix, a software provider that specialise in content security, offers expertise in data aggregation by mapping first-party data and third-party data together to create a complete 360-degree view of the subscriber experience – leading to insights that help key decision makers to make better content catalogue and packaging decisions, while uncovering service disruption issues.

Video service providers can also use the data to focus on subscriber retention management by establishing a baseline that can be used to identify subscribers at risk of cancelling – whether it is due to a negative experience, poor quality, limited use or other factors.

Sebastian Braun, director of Product Management at Verimatrix, explains: “Media operators can and should leverage the behavioural data of their viewing audiences to tailor the viewing experience.

“This happens at an audience segment level. By taking the demographics and viewing history of a subscriber and analysing the data on an individual basis, media operators can narrow down to the most relevant audience segments and tailor the content discovery experience for that specific user accordingly.”

Apart from extracting and structuring of data, TiVo’s systems leverage their expertise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced Machine Learning (ML) to reduce the tedious flow of structuring the data and provide a human-centric interface for enterprises to make informed decisions.

It also allows operators to pipe the data into their own marketing platforms to allow them to identify patterns and trends which may indicate when a user is likely to churn, or to surface optimised content and advertisements based on end-user’s likes and dislikes. 

Therefore, with more structured data and actionable insights, enterprises can look forward to better engagement rate and reap higher returns.

Telecom operators, a synonymous vertical of the media providers, can also play a strategic role in extracting hyper-granular data insights for both internal and external data monetisation opportunities; thus, improving user experiences for content providers.

The Land of Data states that ‘with in-depth customer understanding, telco carriers are able to offer personalised subscriber offerings that enhance customer experiences including time-based, location-based and application-based plans amongst others, as well as create new, segmented and targeted revenue streams, both internally and with external parties.’

“Telco carriers that leverage data monetisation opportunities with the right analytical tools can rise above the competition,” says Kostas Anagnostakis, CEO and founder of Niometrics, a network analytics company that provides solutions for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and the sponsor of The Land of Data report.

As data are available in silos, the sharing of data across borders within the organisation has raised security and sovereignty concerns. In Singapore, authorities recently tightened data residency controls to ensure organisations comply with the rules set out by Personal Data Protection Commission when collecting and disclosing data, especially with regards to transferring of source data to other countries.

Stephane Le Dreau, senior vice-president and regional APAC, says: “Authorities have been eager to regulate as a measure
of wrestling back control of people’s data, and by extension, their privacy.

“It seems that the issue of data has so far proved a double-edged sword for many: it has the power to improve the quality of the service rendered to the end-user, but abuse can kill years of effort.”

NAGRA Insight – a fully GDPR compliant software – offers strong data collection capabilities, from devices, set-top boxes, the main CRM system or simply from operators’ data warehouses. Data is collected automatically, at the required frequency, and in a fully secure way.

Harrison highlights to APB+: “The ethical use of data should be a priority for all media companies. The limits and risks associated with how far a company can go – and how far they should go – are often different.

“Media companies are still getting to grips with this, with 37% of survey respondents indicating that they need to improve access to data and improve data sharing.”

To better manage and protect customer data, ASG offers Enterprise Data Intelligence to improve data privacy. According to ASG, Data Intelligence programs often drive rapid growth in “Data Literacy” – the key enabler of digital business which is vital for an understanding of Data Privacy. 

Kumar explains: “As the volume of data generated by the media industry continues to grow, it’s evident that they need a more thorough and integrated approach to data privacy management in order to retain trust and comply with regulations.

“Successful data privacy requires effective data management which includes data integrity and data governance. In this era where data is everywhere, produced by almost anything and available to anyone, it is imperative to have data that everyone can trust.”

Chris Gordon, vice-president, Global Sales, OTT & Targeted Delivery, Imagine Communications proposed to include customisable fields for data obfuscation – so even if users agree to have their data shared, the media companies with those direct customer relationships can turn off identifiable data as it is passed around the ecosystem.

Harrison suggests: “While regulators continue to introduce new legislation and penalties, only 18% of Asia-Pacific executives told us they are prioritising customer data management and protection, making it their lowest priority.

“To address this, they must place data trust at the heart of the business and view it as a key value enabler.”

How should media operators unlock the future value of data?

Verimatrix suggests that media operators can unlock the future value of data through two methods:

  1. Allowing subscribers to use their personal data as currency in exchange for viewing rights; or
  2. Video service providers can sell viewership data to content owners to better improve the content production

Charles Dawes, senior director of marketing, TiVo, affirms the value of data: “In the realm of hyper-personalised media consumption, data is the key ingredient after the content, because a hyper-personalised service without content is useless and a content service without personalisation no longer fulfils the expectations of the consumer.”

NAGRA points to Facebook as one of the successful examples of data monetisation, as its feeds are fully tailored and arbitrated to
the end-user on-the-fly and instantly. Le Dreau suggests that pay-TV ought to learn from this and start taking a new perspective on what it means to personalise a service. For example, the potential of segmenting contents to an area or a type of customer, and segmenting all the way down to a household or an individual person.

Kumar concludes: “Data is indeed the new currency of this era. ‘Data is the new oil’ is a phrase that we are hearing more recently and that just shows how valuable data is today.

“Proper management and use of data could accelerate the growth of hyper-personalised media platforms as data collected would be properly used and directed to the right audience. Large organisations nowadays are able to monetise data by using them in digital and targeted marking.”

Think deep, embrace new tools — and be as nimble as Lara Croft — to turn dark data into a pot of gold!

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