Get a Little Help from Your Friends: New Changes Ahead for Choosing Which Movie to Stream Next


Now that fall is officially here, I can’t help but think about the story I heard that retailers will launch Black Friday sales even earlier this year. Our family is thankful to stay out of the fray that day, and really, almost always because the majority of our retail shopping transactions are conducted online. And why not? The online retail experience is intuitive, sites make recommendations for new products that are similar to our interests, jeans are automatically paired with any number of shirts that match… It’s easy and insightful and gets me through the selection-to-buying process, faster, by guiding me at the outset to what’s most relevant to me. Relevant recommendations have made huge strides in the online retail space, but get ready for this model to make an even bigger impact on the way you decide which movie or TV series to watch next.

The online video content selection and buying process has been following suit with the retail model for a number of years. Video providers like Comcast and Netflix have become savvy about recommending movies and TV shows that match your interests, especially when you’ve shopped with them before, or you’ve chosen to tell them about your preferences for content.

But this is where the video content model is beginning to grow in new ways to carry forward what the retail model has started. There are new innovations coming that will make it easier for all of us as consumers to ‘get on with the show.’

Today, like the retail model, the movies and TV shows that are ‘recommended for you’ are similar to ones that you’re purchased or rented in the past from that same provider. But in the not too distant future, content will continue to become more relevant to factors that augment what your current provider already knows about you. We’ll start to see content recommendations that take into account what people across an entire customer base, an entire geographic footprint, or even the social media universe have in common when it comes to their interests.

Today, you can already see movie recommendations based on what people in your town are watching. Do you pay attention to that? Do you think that you’ll be more in the know for local conversation if you’re watching what everyone else is watching? Video content marketers are betting that you will, and they’re also tapping into the basic human instinct to want to belong and to share experiences. Video is a platform that can instantly build affinity, community and connection. Content marketers are banking on that, and as a result, we’ll all be seeing more crowdsourcing by geography, suggestions for new movies and TV series based on what’s trending, both among current customers and across online communities. Why does this matter to you? Because it means a new world of video content is about to open up, one that’s not just showing you movies just like the ones you’ve already seen, but offering new choices that are relevant, fresh and well-liked by your peers.

Advertising is following this same path – you’ve probably already noticed for some time that the ads you’re served when you’re browsing online are sometimes for products you’ve recently looked at or brands that you frequently buy from. Brands that advertise on television and within video content are also looking at how to talk on a more one-to-one basis with consumers. Ads are set to become more local, regional and action-oriented, where a click of the remote can drop you into an online experience with others that share your same interests, or take you to a tailored buying offer.

Once you know what you want to watch, buying/renting it and taking it with you will also become easier, and also based around you as an individual. A single login will take you to all of your video content, your recommendations, your stored payment methods, coupons, loyalty programs and special advertising offers. You’ll have a single place to set content viewing and payment rules for members of your household (like PG-only content for the kids, or monthly spending limits on game rentals.) This centralized access also offers a new level of portability that is only out there on a limited basis today – start a movie at home, pick it up again at the same spot on your tablet on a flight or record a show in the home, and download it on your device for the morning commute.

This evolution of the personalized, one-to-one approach is the future model, ironically fueled in part by a much broader view of what content is resonating with people with your similar interests, across your local area and broadly across the global social media audience. We have just begun to see the dawn of video content portability and customization. Soon, it will feel like a custom pair of your favorite jeans, designed just for you.

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