Wednesday Apr 09, 2014

Building Great Experiences into Digital Media

What is it that leads Netflix to grow revenues by 24% to $1.2 billion, or Spotify the music streaming service, to have one quarter of its 24 million customers opting to pay a $9,99 monthly subscription for its service?  What is it about these digital content services that persuades consumers to pay - while many more established media and entertainment businesses are struggling to create successful direct-to-consumer propositions or get growth in their digital revenues?

At Oracle, we've worked with many industries who've faced the same dilemmas, and almost always the answer comes down to customer experience.  The successful players in the digital space are those who focus relentlessly on every consumer: engaging them, creating compelling experiences and seamless customer journeys - and ultimately being rewarded for this by consumers who are willing to pay and subscribe.

Oracle's own research of media and entertainment executives around the world finds that most understand the importance of customer experience to the future success of their business.  Indeed they believe that they risk losing 27% of revenue year-on-year by failing to provide great customer experiences.   Yet in spite of this, around half of media and entertainment companies have no active customer experience strategy under way.



So what is it that media customers will pay for?  The difficult truth is that great content alone is no longer enough.  Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine, in their book Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business assess research originally produced by Dr. Elizabeth Sanders in 1992.



Here they find that the most basic requirement is to meet then customer's needs.  All companies need to do this of course.  In the media business, that means making relevant content available to the customer.  Unfortunately, that's where many companies stop.  But in order to create growing and sustainable revenues, it's critical to move "up the triangle".

The successful content providers are those that not only provide content products, but make them utterly simple and compelling to use.  Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the success of Apple's products.  The iPod wasn't the first digital music player, and the iPhone wasn't the first smartphone - but Apple gained significant market advantage by making these products easy to use for the majority of consumers.

And to really prosper, companies need to create an emotional engagement with their customers, to the extent that consumers really enjoy using the products.  Again, this is something that many new entrants to the media world appear to have achieved.

Fortunately, it's becoming easier for all media and entertainment companies to move up this triangle and build the sort of engaging experiences that consumers value enough to pay for and return to.  Many media and entertainment companies are using Oracle's customer experience tools to help them do this.  NBC Sports is engaging younger viewers through social media, and attracting them back to linear sports TV.  The Boston Globe is building a paid-for customer base by focusing on delivering fantastic customer service.  Dow Jones is making it simple for consumers to subscribe to their valuable content services, and Sony Computer Entertainment is insuring that PlayStation users enjoy a great gaming experience.

Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

Does Technology Matter for Media Companies?

Should media and entertainment creative executives care about technology?  Does it add any value - or is it just a cost center?  After all, it's the content that consumers are paying for, right?

As many industry leaders gather at the NAB Show this week perhaps that question seems redundant - the Las Vegas Convention Center is stacked with technology as far as the eye can see.  But there is a serious point - look beyond the blinking lights of the latest broadcast technology goodies, and ask whether the industry really values the importance of technology?

NAB Show 2014

The entrepreneur and former Channel Four (UK broadcast network) chairman Luke Johnson thinks not. Writing in his Financial Times column, he believes many media industry creative leaders risk losing out to tech-savvy start-ups.

"I saw this phenomenon close up when I was in the broadcasting industry. Entertainment executives dominated: but almost none of them displayed any interest or understanding of the power and potential of technology. And so online, satellite and computer companies have progressively eaten their markets: the TV sector has been left in the dust, struggling to keep up with younger generations of consumers who are digital natives."

It's certainly the case that some of the highest-profile players in digital content services have come from outside the traditional industry.  Think Netflix, Amazon and Apple in video streaming.  Spotify and Pandora in music streaming.  And the powerful social networks that are grabbing eyeballs and advertising dollars - often at the expense of established media businesses.

These disruptive players have several things in common:
  • They are technology companies first and foremost and understand how to harness innovative technology to reach and engage with consumers, and deliver the sort of digital content experiences that consumers value enough to pay for
  • They focus as much on innovating the business model as on innovating content products.  For example, Spotify helped transform music from a paid-for download-to-own model to a subscription all-you-can-eat model.  In the wider world we see digital players like Uber disrupting the taxi business, and Airbnb disrupting the hotel business,
  • They have done this on the back of other people's content demonstrating that innovative digital-first players are able to find and exploit the gaps in customer experience and technology that the established content owners may have missed
If Luke Johnson is correct, many media and entertainment companies need to get smarter about understanding how they can best embrace new technology to deliver a competitive advantage and create their own innovative, customer-centric digital content businesses.

The good news is that technology partners like Oracle bring vast experience of digital transformation in many industries, and make that available to media and entertainment companies.  If you're at NAB this week, why not pay us a visit at booth SL13909 and see how we can help your business.  Or get in touch and we can come and show you how our innovative solutions are helping many media and entertainment businesses gain competitive advantage in the digital marketplace.

Monday Apr 07, 2014

Oracle in Las Vegas for the NAB Show

Broadcasters from around the world gather in Las Vegas this week for the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show.   There's an almost-bewildering array of the latest technology for creating, managing and delivering video entertainment - addressing an incredible diversity of content: from over-the-top (OTT) streaming on mobile devices at one end, to the brilliant quality and resolution of ultra-high-definition (UHD) and 4K formats at the other.

Oracle booth at NAB Show


Oracle's booth (SL13909) showcases solutions that not only help manage the content - but also enable broadcast networks, cable and satellite operators and content owners to engage directly with their audiences, build compelling experiences - and translate that into growing digital revenue streams.

Efficient workflows and on-demand consumers require digital content to be available on tap. But UHD and 4K, along with HD, create huge demands on digital libraries and archives.  Oracle's StorageTek digital media archive solutions solve those problems by offering the world's most scalable and highest capacity digital content archive: 500,000+ hours of uncompressed 4K content in the SL8500 - and one million hours of HD broadcast content in the compact SL3000.  That is coupled with Oracle's ZFS disk storage appliance - which offers very high throughput to support video workflows - as well as open standards LTFS support, and integration with a wide range of Media Assset Management vendors, and underpinned by Oracle technology and middleware, to offer a powerful media workflow solution.

Distributing that content to end consumers is enabled by Oracle's partnership with Fraunhofer FOKUS, the co-developer of the MPEG-DASH  standard for cross-device, secure video streaming.  At NAB we'll be showing the power of Oracle's Media Commerce solution to build a powerful personalized content platform with highly-flexible transactions and subscriptions from Oracle Billing and Revenue Management Cloud, integrated with MPEG-DASH to deliver video to any device.  This allows content owners to build a next-generation OTT or VoD platform to deliver compelling customer experiences while innovating business and revenue models. 


Content owners and distributors can unlock immense value by better understanding every digital interaction they have with every end consumer.  For the first time at NAB, Oracle is showing its Media Intelligence solution, in partnership with media big data specialists NGDATA.  Built on Oracle's powerful Big Data Appliance this cost-effective solution allows media and entertainment companies to capture real-time data about consumers - from web logs, clickstream, transactions, social media - and build a detailed "DNA" profile of each individual user.  This can then drive highly-targeted marketing and social media to acquire new customers and viewers, while delivering them a very personalized experience with relevant content recommendations and targeted advertising.  Best of all, the solution can be deployed And delivering value in a matter of weeks - significantly faster and cheaper than "DIY" big data solutions.

Oracle Media Intelligence Solution

If you're visiting the NAB Show this year, come and pay us a visit at booth SL13909 - we think you'll enjoy seeing these solutions in action.

Friday Jan 10, 2014

Big Data in Media? Here’s Why all the Hype

Big Data in the media industry seems confusing: Google, Apple, Amazon & Co use it against you, early success stories like Netflix’s House of Cards get analyzed everywhere - and tech vendors try to sell you big stuff. Why all the hype? Well, here’s an answer.

Big Data in Media

First of all, why "Big"?  If you have thousands – or millions – of digital consumers, capturing their every click, every search, every browse, every view, every comment, every recommendation creates a vast amount of data. Netflix, for example, is gathering data from 40m+ users and billions of hours of streaming video each day (including every pause, rewind and skip), along with millions of ratings and searches – all linked to data about the device used, the location, the time and place – and external rating and social media data. Moreover, as all other industries – your advertisers - also connect their products and services building the "Internet of Things", our digital universe explodes and already reached the zettabyte level (1 billion terabytes).

Big Data in Media

But is there any value-add in the new "Data"? Yes, and it's entirely different from the "old" structured data tracking corporate results: formerly "invisible" consumer behavior - using, searching, selecting, complaining, recommending products – now becomes accessible data for our business IT systems. So all of this new unstructured data is a huge asset and strategic advantage, especially when connected with traditional sales and subscription activity, customer service contacts, responses to marketing campaigns and external demographic data.

Big Data in Media

And that’s why all the Hype: Consumer Experience

In other words, for the first time in history organizations can build a complete digital view to monitor and optimize their customers’ experiences. Using this “Big Data” it is now possible to build a personalized connection to every individual user and customer. Understanding their likes, dislikes and interests. Their propensity to consume and buy. Their membership of any number of micro-segments. And at any stage of the customer lifecycle.

Big Data in Media

How can Media Companies benefit from Big Data?

With this deep understanding of the customer in place, it becomes much simpler to automate a whole range of incredibly valuable business activities that simultaneously create a vastly-improved customer experience, and drive increased revenues through better targeting and engagement, such as:

  • Highly-targeted marketing – based on a precise understanding of which customer micro-segments will be most interested in a new piece of content or subscription offer – all joined up across former business silos
  • Increasing acquisition and retention – understanding why people subscribe and why people churn and reacting with effective product and promotion strategies
  • Content acquisition strategy – what content will be most popular with the most profitable customer segments?
  • Programmatic advertising – increasing digital CPMs by offering precise and detailed customer segments to advertising networks and exchanges

Startups like Netflix, Flipboard or Spotify delivered initial success stories and demonstrated the value of their Big Data media platforms. But how should established companies join in? Many media entertainment businesses lack the ability to unlock the value from the new data universe. This is a result of both the vast volume of data (far more than traditional IT systems are geared up to cope with) and its unstructured, complex nature – how do you really understand a customer from their seemingly random click stream behavior?

Until recently, launching a Big Data project required very complex technology, and an expensive team of data scientists. Today, simpler and integrated tools are available to launch a Big Data project quickly and cost-effectively. Three case studies from Oracle customers might help on how to successfully start into the Big Data era:

#1 Foundation: Single View of Consumer Data before you go Big Data

In many Big Data projects, we see media & entertainment providers discovering they don’t get one consistent consumer view due to their silo legacy systems. Is the classic subscriber the same person who's tweeting or buying on Amazon Kindle, Apple Newsstand or the web offering? The problem: without a unified data foundation and consumer context, all additional Big Data streams would be pointless.

Sony solved this challenge using Oracle Master Data Management in the Oracle Cloud to manage a consistent view of 77m Sony Playstation consumers. http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/profit/big-ideas/071013-bi-cloudcontrol-1974881.html

#2 Usability: Big Data for Automated Social Media & Marketing

Big Data success often comes from routing tons of small data to the right place, at the right time – especially in all web or social media related use cases. The value of automated audience monitoring and engaging comes from enabling your editorial, marketing, service and sales teams to efficiently connect with millions of consumers. That's why employee usability is a key success factor for Big Data enabled marketing automation or enterprise social relationship platforms.

For example, see how NBC sports achieved double digit growth in TV ratings using Oracle Social Cloud for monitoring and engaging with millions of consumers http://medianetwork.oracle.com/video/player/2036473045001 

#3 Real-time: Content Discovery and Programmatic Advertising

Big Data is often about fast data: it’s not another monthly board-room analysis, but the real-time consumer recommendation or programmed advertising which makes the difference - and will challenge both your teams and technology infrastructure. Oracle simplifies the use of in-memory systems, NoSQL, Hadoop, Real-Time Recommendation and other Big Data technologies. 

Oracle’s Media Intelligence solution provides a cost-effective, quick-to-deploy platform for collecting, connecting and using digital media Big Data to drive immediate benefits. See for example how Thomson Reuters or Immonet, an Axel Springer Digital Classifieds company, use Oracle Big Data products to drive their business. http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/customers/customersearch/immonet-1-exalytics-ss-1927903.html

So, what’s the art building a Big Data media platform?

However you start into Big Data, make consumer privacy your number one priority - don’t compromise on security, governance and user transparency. Based on this foundation, focus all teams on the customer experience: establish a no-compromise consumer-centric culture to create a Big Data media platform that makes a difference for your customer journey.

Inspired? Get in touch via oracle.com/goto/media and oracle.com/bigdata

@haraldbee  Harald Behnke

Saturday Oct 05, 2013

How to Ease Your Paywall Pains

If you’re in news, magazine or periodical publishing you’re very likely to be operating – or at least planning – a kind of “paywall”, like over 500 dailies in the US and Europe do. Introducing new payment and subscription revenue streams has become mandatory, with digital advertising revenues remaining stubbornly lower than the ad income enjoyed by print. 

Consumers’ pain with “paywalls” is of course that all internet content has been free for decades. So, why pay? What price? Which product bundle? Where and how to buy? Do I get “print value” (whatever that is) in digital - but with internet service benefits like hyperlinks, bookmarks, video and most of all personalized offerings? Are users willing to pay for just a replica of the print content - or a new digital experience?

Paywall Pains

Tough and game-changing questions for the publishing industry, tellingly analyzed as the digital “Newsonomics” by Ken Doctor. But while digital transformation results in structural decline of the print business, there are early signs of success and best practice on how to grow with digital content commerce and marketing. Based on successful customer insights, I’d like to share three lessons-learned on easing the most typical “paywall pains”.  

1. Don’t build a “wall” - build a smart commerce service

There’s only one learning in digital content commerce: nobody knows the best pricing and product formats yet, so business teams want to try, change and adopt in high frequency. Metered paywalls, subscriptions, try-before-buy, article buys, in-content commerce and multi-product bundles? Yes, all of them, today! What does this mean for IT and editorial teams? Don’t hardcode any transaction or commerece solutions into your content management systems, and don’t build IT or editorial dependencies for dynamic price and product changes.

The publishing industry has the chance to learn from telecommunication subscriber management disasters: I have seen teams struggling to maintain literally thousands of hard-coded digital product variations, just after a few years in business. A positive example is Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal, often seen as inventor of the “paywall” in 1997 with over a decade of paywall learnings. In the video linked below, former SVP of Circulation Lynne Brennen outlines how agile her business teams change pricing and bundling options of various Dow Jones products using Oracle Billing and Revenue Management solutions.


Lynne Brennen, SVP of Circulation, Dow Jones

2. Prepare to lose half of your free users - by winning subscribers with modern marketing

Everybody in marketing will agree “walls” in general don’t really help creating a compelling customer experience.  And it’s true that making the barrier as easy to pass as possible is essential.  But pay models can also dramatically change the reader experience. Recent reports on The Sun’s paywall launch in summer 2013 indicate the service lost 60% traffic - but won 340.000 paying subscribers in the same time, which is obviously a great start.  

The good news is that modern marketing already offers mature technical solutions to drive digital revenues. Online retailers like Amazon or Ikea run dozens of different marketing backend services to drive revenue by optimizing a personal customer experience. And similar standard applications are successfully in use in media & entertainment - here with links to customers using Oracle Media & Entertainment solutions:  

3. Digital pennies for analogue dollars - go Cloud to innovate at lower cost

Managing costs is another key challenge of the digital media transformation, as in most cases analogue revenues decline faster than digital increases - the famous "digital pennies for analogue dollars" saying. And at the same time, this financial gap is unfortunately widened by investment needs, as innovating digital content means expensive developing of new product formats, production and commerce platforms - often new IT-centric costs. 

But there's good news again, as the media industry can learn from another industry: nearly all "digital natives" from Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook to Netflix and Flipboard rely on Cloud infrastructure to address similar challenges. The rational is simple: they can focus on strategic product software development, and use standard cloud software and technology platforms wherever possible - which both saves costs and enables the agile start-small go-global rollout.

The innovation behind is based on similar economies of scales that centralized our energy industry: the IT industry learned to offer super-large data centers, combined with self-service access, instant provisioning and flexible OPEX pricing. As you might have guessed by now, the Oracle Cloud (cloud.oracle.com) makes this possible for publishers, too - increasing ease-of-use (e.g. Oracle Social Cloud video) and simplifying IT (e.g. Oracle Billing and Revenue Management Cloud video).

What it means? Hands free to focus on the real challenges 

Now, digital transformation is that easy? Of course not. But implementing standard technology solutions to drive consumer engagement and transactions will free management, creative and technical resources to focus on the real tough questions: mastering the cultural transformation into a digital B2C product company.   

Sunday Sep 15, 2013

Drag-and-Drop Access for Cloud-Scale Tape Archives with LTFS

What if cloud-scale tape storage would be as easy to use and manage as disk - at a lower cost, using a familiar “drag-and-drop” paradigm? Enter Oracle StorageTek Linear Tape File System, Library Edition (LTFS LE), introduced at IBC 2013. It further broadens the appeal of tape storage in industries with large file assets, such as media and entertainment, enabling customers to take advantage of tape’s low cost per terabyte for backup, large-scale data retention, archive and preservation projects, while allowing customers to save 40 percent in acquisition cost over IBM’s TS3500 20PB Tape Library solution.

Oracle media LTFS workflow

With a familiar NAS-like file structure with both search and index capabilities that can be accessed directly through a standard file system interface, users can “drag-and-drop” files between tape and disk storage systems without additional specialized, archive or backup management software.

As media and entertainment video formats rapidly increase in size and scale, StorageTek continues to innovate with new solutions for this industry. StorageTek LTFS LE simplifies the adoption of high capacity tape storage to support multiple use cases:

  • Digital media distribution to support file-based workflow and broadcast production and play-out operations
  • Storage and archive of 2K, 4K, and 8K (IMAX) digital formats
  • On-set capture and backup of video footage from digital cameras

 Read more  http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/press/2008767

@Oracle_Media

Oracle media LTFS workflow

Wednesday Sep 11, 2013

Why Digital Success or Failure Hinges on the Consumer Experience

Are you making enough revenue from your digital platforms and content?  Are your new digital revenues growing fast enough to offset the decline in traditional sales and advertising?

The answer for many established media and entertainment companies is "no". Yet new digital-native competitors have arrived with fresh content aggregation, social and streaming services, usually based on other people's content, and are making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

The secret? These successful new digital services are based around beautiful and engaging experiences that delight customers and keep them coming back for more. In other words, it's the experience that end users are willing to pay for, not just the content.

In a new paper published today, Oracle's Media and Entertainment team sets out Why Digital Success or Failure Hinges on the Consumer Experience – and how all publishing, broadcasting and digital media companies can compete and create a secure, sustainable and growing digital business by following three principles:

  1. Engage consumers with consistent, connected experiences across digital and social channels
  2. Integrate commerce right into the content using seamless, flexible transaction models to target highly-relevant offers and convert free users into paying customers
  3. Drive data-driven decisions with actionable consumer insights from all channels, products, and devices

Oracle Media Consumer Experience Brief

The connected consumer experience requires connected solutions. Oracle solutions for Media Engagement, Media Commerce and Media Intelligence work together to help media companies improve the consumer experience. With Oracle, media and entertainment companies can personalize content, target ecommerce, and analyze detailed consumer insights to build sustainable digital revenue.

If you're visiting the IBC broadcast industry convention in Amsterdam over the next few days, come and see Oracle's Media and Entertainment team at our booth in hall 9, and we can show you how.

@Oracle_Media

Oracle Media Consumer Experience

Monday Sep 09, 2013

IFA 2013: Fraunhofer MPEG DASH framework for OTT VOD

The Over-The-Top (OTT) Video On Demand (VOD) market is heading to two game-changing moments: the AppleTV app platform opening up for everyone - and open standard MPEG DASH implementations reaching the rest of the world. At IFA 2013 in Berlin, the Fraunhofer FOKUS competence center Future Applications and Media (FAME) demonstrated MPEG DASH and 2nd screen innovations with their multiscreen framework FAMIUM. 

The FAME team researches and develops interactive web technologies focused on cross platform smart media and IPTV. FAMIUM is a collection of software components for multiscreen applications which allows a seamless user experience across multiple devices. It enables providers and marketers to realize cross-platform development, adaptive media streaming, content synchronization and protection using MPEG DASH.

Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) is the upcoming streaming standard for the Web and will harmonize video delivery across the Internet. The Fraunhofer FOKUS solution forms an ecosystem for the consumption and delivery of adaptive bitrate content as well as Digital Rights Management protected (DRM) content. It bundles several DASH and DRM related functionalities for the use in Web applications and is based on the W3C working drafts Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions. 

@haraldbee Harald Behnke

Friday Aug 30, 2013

The Rise of Customer Experience in Media & Entertainment

What are the key market drivers behind the rise of Customer Experience (CX) in media and entertainment? Obviously, the digital transformation disrupts the traditional value chain - broadcasters and publishers controlling their market - in four key ways:

  • Consumers expect digital content to be delivered to all of their devices in an engaging way anytime – increasing the costs and complexity for the media companies
  • Old revenue models are being impacted: reduced sales of physical/packaged media, and reducing advertising spend (part cyclical economy, part declining traditional audience) – these have not been replaced by equivalent digital revenues ("analogue pounds replaced by digital pennies”)
  • Internet connected devices create the potential for a direct relationship with the consumer for the first time. The mostly-unrealised potential for those media companies that understand how to connect with the audience and create an engaging digital proposition
  • New competitors and partners coming in to the value chain – e.g. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Flipboard – these “digital native” players are capturing a large share of digital revenues at the expense of traditional players 

On top of this there are specific changes in advertising – e.g. the shift towards automatically-traded digital online advertising which means data is an increasingly-valuable raw commodity.  


Taking the “three Cs” the overall impact is: 

  • Consumer ... direct engagement is key to compete with digital natives and to grow digital ad revenues through data. Delivering a compelling, engaging customer experience is critical. 
  • Content ... alone is no longer enough and is becoming increasingly commoditised, but owning and managing great content is still key. Renewed focus needed on creating/managing truly multi-platform content, removing traditional platform silos. And increased focus on cost and efficiency of creating, managing and distributing content across platforms. 
  • Commerce ... two key revenues streams, media companies need to balance both. Advertising still depressed, but owning and managing data and direct consumer relationships key to increasing rates. Payment/subscription revenues not yet working in digital for many traditional players. Need to focus on the customer, and building models where the payment is for the value and experience the customer receives, not just “paying for content”.

So, not so obviously, within just a few years the media & entertainment industry becomes a highly competitive digital B2C market where customer, not content, is king. What it means? Many new challenges, but exciting times ahead to mix and mashup all those C's - content, commerce, community - into new compelling digital customer experiences.

@oracle_media


Wednesday Aug 28, 2013

Meet Oracle media experts at IBC 2013 in Amsterdam

Join Oracle at IBC 2013 and learn how Oracle’s media & entertainment industry solutions are enabling the world’s leading broadcasting, content production and digital media organizations to create content, build audience engagement, and run their businesses more effectively and efficiently.

The Oracle booth (9.D15) will feature live demonstrations of Oracle’s media industry solutions for managing your digital media content supply chain, delivering a compelling media consumer experience, and running your digital media business:

Oracle’s specialized media team will be in the booth to meet with you and demonstrate how Oracle can help you run your Digital Media Enterprise with. Interested? Register at IBC and request a meeting with our team via this link

@Oracle_Media

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