Technology leaders discuss how to unlock the power of data for media, entertainment, and advertisement

At the panel hosted by Snowflake, in association with YourStory, technology leaders discussed the evolution of consumer data, responsibility towards data privacy, dealing with discoverability, and more.
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OTT (Over-the-top) is now the fastest-growing market in the world, as it has content for anyone and everyone. According to a report by PwC, India is all set to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest OTT market by 2024 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.6 percent over the next four years to touch revenues of $2.9 billion.

Today, the shift from “print” media to “online content” and from traditional “cable TV” to OTT platforms is putting pressure on legacy companies to evolve to remain relevant.

To plant the big picture, Snowflake hosted a panel, in association with YourStory featuring Lokesh Chauhan, CTO of Eros Now; Vineet Govil, CTO of Viacom18 Digital Ventures; Nitin Mittal, President - Technology and Data, Zee; and Vimal Venkatram, Country Manager, India at Snowflake.

What data means to businesses

Data can be used in various ways, from recommending the right product to users to building content strategy. "Data is crude. You need to know the art and skill to refine it and create multiple variants for it to be usable," said Nitin.

But it's also a double-edged sword, as even though the benefits are aplenty, it throws up privacy challenges. "Data shouldn't be misused or overused," said Vineet.

At Snowflake, they're seeing a pattern where all their customers want to be data-driven. "Data is soil, it's fertile, it's an ecosystem where you can make interesting applications," said Vimal.

The evolution of consumer data

The previous avatar of media was print, and consumer surveys were the only way to figure out what consumers wanted. When the TV era came in, the content was pushed out based on demographic analysis, but the reactions were slow. Now, with OTT platforms, Zee’s Nitin said the amount of data you have access to is unbelievable. "The time taken to make sense of the data, and the response from consumers is immediate," he shared.

The pandemic changed the way consumers consumed content, and for businesses to thrive in the market, they need to leverage their data in the right manner. At Eros Now, Lokesh says they witnessed up to 50x traffic spikes, and although challenging, it hastened OTT's lead in the entertainment space.

"Snowflake's data cloud enables businesses across media, advertising, entertainment and telecom, to inexpensively access all of their data in a single globally-available, strongly-governed platform, and share data and execute advanced analytics," explained Vimal.

Value of new-age technologies

While data is available in abundance, the real value is the ability to analyse it. "It's the combination of having the right architecture and technology stack for capturing the data, and availability of talent who understands how to analyse it," said Nitin.

He added that most industry players are moving from analytics to ML models, and AR/VR will become niche consumption spaces. "All the digital natives are moving in the same direction at different speeds, it's all about who gets there first. Everyone wants to capture the audience at a younger age, to keep the wallet share higher," he explained.

Vineet shared how personalisation and targeted ads are the norms now, and data will play a crucial role here. "As a customer, I want to watch relevant ads. That's possible only if service providers and telcos are aware of the next few things customers will do, apart from age, demographics," he said.

Responsibility towards privacy

But when it comes to leveraging digital data to maximise advertising revenue, there are concerns around privacy and compliance. "Custody of data, encryption, data sharing agreements, etc were nice to have in contracts. After the pandemic, it's a must-have," said Nitin.

Snowflake is simplifying these challenges as it unifies governance across all workloads, making it easier for customers to know, protect, and unlock all of their data through a centralised approach. "We are multi-cloud, so customers have their arms around their own data. We have robust security protocols in place, and ensure secure data sharing with suppliers and partners," said Vimal.

Dealing with ads, offline services, and discoverability

Today, consumers are consuming video content both online and offline. The need is to provide the best user experience, irrespective of device, location, bandwidth or time.

Consumers inherently dislike their content being interrupted by ads. Observing different markets, Lokesh said, "In developed markets, people are willing to pay to avoid ad interruption in between the content, vs in developing markets, where they're not keen to pay. As long as the content is free, they won't mind."

But with too many OTT players in the market, the user experience has become very fragmented. India is a diverse country, so multiple regional content providers are good, as people relate to their own language emotionally. But discoverability becomes an issue, and Nitin said that they are trying to personalise the search experience. "The more we learn about the consumer, we can give content easily accessible to them within not more than a scroll away," he shared.

Snowflake is helping companies supercharge their monetisation efforts, using Snowflake's data marketplace. "We ensure secure and seamless data collaboration, help them share first-party data in a compliant manner, drive targeted campaigns, and acquire and retain subscribers," said Vimal.

Top technology trends of the future

The pandemic allowed people to taste the goodness of OTT platforms. Once things get back to normal and movie theatres open up, Vineet said that it's going to be a hybrid. "OTT has seen good evolution because of technology capability, in terms of better audio, video, connected TVs, etc," he said.

Vimal added that OTT platforms are also delving into content that most movies won't touch. "The subjects, acting methodologies, and delivery comfort have changed the flavour of the audience now," he stated.

On the trends that will play out in the future, personalisation will take centre stage. "There may be different edits for the same content to suit each customer," said Lokesh.

According to Vineet, interactivity will play a huge role. "Ads will see a shift. We have to look at how we can engage consumers in the ads. While watching the ad, enable them to purchase on the same platform, without moving away," he said.

“Customer experience will be king, followed by monetisation, and data security,” said Nitin.


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