Expanded consumer choice and interaction are disruptive forces for providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, content owners, and advertisers. Time-shifted viewing via the DVR or video-on-demand in combination with video options via the Internet has created an increasingly fragmented consumer “television” experience. And although live television still dominates viewing in a typical U.S. TV household, viewers are supplementing this experience with additional options.

The Data-driven Video Discovery Evolution

Kurt Scherf | Parks Associates

December 2011

The Data-driven Video Discovery Evolution
A Parks Associates whitepaper developed for Digitalsmiths

Author: Kurt Scherf, VP and Principal Analyst, Parks Associates

Expanded consumer choice and interaction are disruptive forces for providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, content owners, and advertisers. Time-shifted viewing via the DVR or video-on-demand in combination with video options via the Internet has created an increasingly fragmented consumer “television” experience. And although live television still dominates viewing in a typical U.S. TV household, viewers are supplementing this experience with additional options.

The Explosion of Video Options

For about 70 years, the television was the “entertainment hearth.” Although the distribution and consumption of TV changed—first with the addition of multichannel video offerings from cable, satellite, and telco/IPTV providers and most recently with the introduction of features such as video-on-demand—content for the TV stayed within well-defined categories. Television shows were television shows, and movies were movies, and networks and video service providers could count on a stable audience and revenue stream for each. As such, predicting the impact of programs on such variables as advertising revenues was relatively simple.

Unit sales of connected CE—including smartphones and tablets—will grow from more than 640 million units in 2011 to nearly 1.8 billion by 2015.

Today, a plethora of video experiences and viewing devices is expanding video’s role from a passive to an interactive, converged, and personalized entertainment experience.

Consumers are choosing their own ways of customizing television. They employ digital video recorders and video-on-demand services to time-shift their programming. They use tools such as the Slingbox or Orb Networks to watch their video in new places and from different locations. They surf the Internet while watching TV to track a fantasy football score. They connect their laptop to their high-definition display to watch Hulu on the big screen. They tap into a growing library of on-demand offerings from their game consoles. They are posting on Facebook or Twitter during Modern Family or using SMS to vote for their favorite American Idol contestant.

Expanded consumer choice and interaction are disruptive forces for providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, content owners, and advertisers. Time-shifted viewing via the DVR or video-on-demand in combination with video options via the Internet has created an increasingly fragmented consumer “television” experience. And although live television still dominates viewing in a typical U.S. TV household, viewers are supplementing this experience with additional options.


Growth of Video-viewing Devices

Not only are the options for receipt of video expanding, the number of products capable of rendering a high-quality video experience is increasing exponentially. This phenomenon has several implications:

  • The potential to distract a viewer further by dividing his or her attention between a primary video-viewing device and the companion product;
  • The erosion of video brands as consumers look not to a specific programmer but rely on general web searches to find video; and
  • A shift away from the traditional method of television search (through the electronic program guide) and toward de­vice-based search and recommendation.

The opportunity for consumers to engage in video experiences beyond the set-top box will increase by a magnitude of about three from 2011 to 2015. Unit sales of connected consumer electronics—including smartphones and tablets—will grow from more than 640 million units in 2011 to nearly 1.8 billion by 2015.

Already, the use of non-TV devices for video is substantial. Unit sales of smartphones and tablets will account for nearly 80% of all video-centric connected CE sales over the next five years, so their role as video viewing and interactive devices will increase significantly in that time. In addition, sales of products such as smart TVs, connected Blu-ray players, game consoles, and digital media receivers (Apple TV, Roku, etc.) will grow to more than 360 million units by 2015. These “fixed” consumer electronics will reshape the way in which video is accessed and viewed.

The use of connected consumer electronics for video has already impacted consumer attitudes toward search, rec­ommendations, and advertising. Consumers find content is easier and faster to locate on tablets and smartphones than on computers and televisions. Consumers favor the tactile nature of portable devices. They can easily swipe through a menu of options to select programming, rather than relying on a mouse or a remote control and series of clicks. Consumers also respond with higher satisfaction to the presen­tation of advertising on tablets and smartphones, where the ad load is smaller and consumers have a better chance of seeing relevant ads and can easily engage further with the ad message if so desired.

The rise of portable and mobile devices as companion devices in tandem with the TV-viewing experience will forever change how consumers interact with video content, on a TV set and on other viewing devices. Second-screen activi­ties occurring concurrent to television viewing promise new and emerging roles for mobile devices:

  • Complementary information devices capable of presenting show-related information while the program is airing;
  • Search and time-shift video-scheduling devices;
  • Alternative remote controllers; and
  • Social tools, used by the viewer to interact with a social network site during a program’s airing.

The Case for Data-driven Video Discovery

The variety of choices for consumers in both video content and viewing devices presents challenges to service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, and content owners. Among the chief questions they must answer:

  • How do we maintain our value and prominence as primary distribution channels when consumers have multiple options for viewing content?
  • At a time when consumers are selecting complementary viewing and information experiences while watching video, how do we provide these experiences while maintaining our brand?
  • If consumers are tuning out traditional advertising messages, how do we make the ads more relevant and valuable to consumers and advertisers?

For media stakeholders, migrating viewers to enhanced video search and recommendation capabilities that are agnostic to both product and content source is a critical component in addressing the challenges of a widely fragmented audience. The ability to provide enhanced personalization through search and recommendation features is essential to improving viewer engagement (i.e., the time a viewer spends on a particular site). These tools aid the customer in finding relevant content and can present ads during viewing that the consumer finds meaningful rather than intrusive.


An effective video search and recommendation solution will include the following elements:

  • The ability to evolve as it learns more about a viewer’s tastes and habits over time: Viewer habits change as con­sumers age, marry, and have children. As tastes for program­ming change, so too should recommendation solutions, ensuring that the most-meaningful content is suggested.
  • The capability to evolve recommendations by blending more than one user profile: The solution needs to be aware of the context in which video viewing is taking place. Is the viewer watching alone, or is the family present? The way in which the solution adjusts its suggestions based on a complete blending of all of the user profiles is important.
  • The use of multiple resources to generate a recommen­dation: The recommendation solution needs to rely on multiple resources, such as metadata with show or actor information. Although this alone is effective in guiding a viewer to genres or preferred programs, a holistic solution accounts for multiple sources of information, such as us­er-generated ratings.
  • The solution needs to work on multiple devices in a seamless and consistent manner. For example, the system must deliver a consistent experience regardless of the various mobile operating systems, screen sizes, and resolution capabilities on which the video displays. Also, the solution needs to account for—and tie seam­lessly to—existing operator-deployed services. A good example of this are the many remote DVR services avail­able today. An effective search and recommendation solution will enhance this experience but not needlessly add additional steps in enabling one-touch recording. Further, although mobile devices will drive many of the use cases today, the solution needs to account for and be capable of rendering search and recommendation results from “fixed” consumer electronics such as game consoles, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and alternative set-top boxes.

For a service provider or content owner, there are distinct benefits to using a data-driven video search and recommendation solution:

Enhanced Search and Recommendation: In this non-linear world of video choice, consumers are often scanning for con­tent that looks interesting and open to enhanced search and recommendation tools to guide them in their video-viewing options. Consumer behavior around video viewing doesn’t reflect a passive “sit-back” experience but one where the con­sumer is an active participant in choosing what to watch.

Engagement: The ability of a content owner or service pro­vider to keep a viewer tied into the content for a longer period of time generates opportunities for new content choices and advertising inventory.

Calls to Action: In presenting consumers with relevant con­tent, service providers have a significantly higher chance of driving the consumer to making choices for services such as video-on-demand or to start watching a newly discovered television series. The service provider benefits from higher transactional revenues for VoD, and content creators benefit from a larger audience size.

Personalization: The search and recommendation solution must be able to assess the context in which video viewing is occurring. Is the search and recommendation occurring on behalf of just one user profile (solo viewing) or with the entire family? How does it account for the individual taste of one viewer versus a combination of tastes, preferences, and the desire by parents to implement parental controls?

New Advertising Inventory: By creating a new category of personalized content, the right solution opens up new advertising inventory opportunities to increase incremental revenues. Moving beyond traditional ad placements, the ability to develop sponsorships and relevant ad messag­ing through consumer profiles increases the value proposi­tion for brand advertisers. A high percentage of consumers are receptive to receiving personalized TV and Internet ads based on their viewing habits, product preference, gender, and age.


An Introduction to Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery™ Contributed by Digitalsmiths

The explosion of video content and entertainment options has created an ever-expanding consumer demand for more intuitive and intelligent search and recommendation tools.

Next-generation solutions, such as Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery™, address this need with powerful new ap­proaches and, in the process, provide the first true discovery experiences for individual viewers across the screens and devices they prefer.

For service providers, CE manufacturers, content owners, and advertisers, greater personalization and reliability have deep and immediate benefits:

  • For consumers, the results are dramatically increased levels of accuracy and personalization in terms of content and entertainment recommended based on their individual preferences, viewing habits, and even the likes of their social peer groups. They can enjoy more of the content they appreciate and be served up video and entertainment options that more instantly engage them without the time, effort, and low satisfaction levels traditionally associated with video search processes or tools.
  • For service providers, consumer electronic manufacturers, and content owners, the personally relevant recom­mendations of Seamless Discovery™ usher in a new era of control and opportunity. The accuracy and immediacy of the recommendations to each individual represent a fundamental shift to their business opportunities as a whole, as Seamless Discovery creates clearer pathways to growing audience, increasing engagement time and reclaiming viewer loyalty.
  • For advertisers, the ability for Seamless Discovery to attract and, in essence, glue consumers closer to content delivers the reliability and accountability of viewership needed to expand their targeted advertising initiatives.

The data-driven video search and recommendation approach of Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery also ensures that over time the accuracy, relevance, and value to viewers and media stakeholders will only increase. As more data and data sources are continually converged into a user profile, the viewer sees even more engaging content matches and suggested entertainment options. The fluid integration of multiple data sources and the ability of these to quickly blend together immediately and effortlessly become a criti­cal point of difference in how the solution continues to drive accurate recommendations and build consumer confidence and engagement.The broad choices of video content across a highly fragmented viewing device environment have el­evated the need and urgency for content owners and crea­tors and service providers to offer a more holistic and reliable search and recommendation approach in order to maintain greater value and control in the marketplace.

The promise of a true discovery experience that can deliver accurate and personalized recommendations has been long viewed as a future ideal. Media stakeholders have envisioned the many possibilities for their end users and bottom lines through such a solution even though they have not seen, until now, the technology platform to clearly deliver them. With the arrival of Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery, these perspectives will quickly shift as service providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, and content owners analyze and deploy this next-generation search and recom­mendation solution.

The search and recommendation space is cluttered, confusing, and filled with a variety of technology options and alternatives. These conditions will no doubt increase as the industry is well aware of the business opportunity at hand. However, clarification will arise in the months ahead as Seamless Discovery defines a standard for the search and recom­mendation experience to which other solutions will be compared.

The differentiation of the Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery approach is evident in the following key factors:

  • Personally relevant and accurate results: Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery has the ability to blend the profiles and attributes of the individual viewer(s) and the respective viewing context at that moment and creates unprecedented personalized recommendation accuracy and relevance.
  • Deeper content connections: Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery integrates more diverse and distinct data points from both the respective pool of media options and the particular individual seeking content to generate matches that are more immediate and meaningful. The solution has proven that service providers, connected device manufacturers, and content owners are able to connect and engage the viewer more quickly and over longer periods of time.
  • The ability to reclaim and repurpose viewer engagement: Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery provides game-chang­ing tools for service providers, connected device manufacturers, and content owners seeking to monetize their video assets and leverage them to reverse brand or viewing erosion—whether this is through higher transactional revenues from VoD, increased advertising inventories and tactical marketing opportunities, or greater consumer satisfaction and loyalty for the source of the entertainment and viewing recommendations.

Throughout time, major technology leaps have opened the way to new eras of discovery, whether it is more highly graphical electronic program guides or links to social networking. This historical trend has reasserted itself once again with the introduction of Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery. It is expected to create higher satisfaction and enjoyment for media consumers along with a period of much greater control and reliable returns for businesses providing those media experiences.


Digitalsmiths is the technology leader in the rapidly growing segment of video search and recommendation. Digitalsmiths Seamless Discovery™, has revolutionized the accuracy and ease with which end-users find relevant, personalized entertainment across multiple channels and devices. digitalsmiths has become a competitive edge and trusted resource for customers such as Warner Bros, Paramount, Technicolor, Turner, the NBA and NASCAR.

Parks Associates is an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. Founded in 1986, Parks Associates creates research capital for companies ranging from Fortune 500 to small start-ups through market reports, primary studies, consumer research, custom research, workshops, executive Conferences, and annual service subscriptions.

The company’s expertise includes new media, digital entertainment and gaming, home networks, Internet and television services, digital health, mobile applications and services, consumer electronics, energy management, and home control systems and security.

www.parksassociates.com | 972.490.1113 | info@parksassociates.com

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