If there is one take way from 2015, it is the haunted look in the eyes of those dealing with data. Or to be accurate, those who have had to get their hands dirty cleansing it.
While there was, quite unusually, not one major land-shift in our industry this year, there was a lot of buzz around analytics and the “big data” it feeds on. While mostly around network rather than the consumer data, there is a clear distinction between consumer and network analytics with the latter focused on Quality of Service, network troubleshooting and getting machines to work better with each other.
By consumer analytics I am referring to the subscriber rather than the device and this is much harder to grasp and much less mature in the context of TV, even among the leading exponents. Even Netflix has only scratched the surface of what is possible as yet. But the fault lies not with operators but with the analytics industry, since there are plenty of companies offering credible services for network analytics but few in the consumer space.
Similarly there’s a group of players in the advertising space eagerly hoping to emerge as the next Nielsen by becoming the standard platform for exploiting data to target ads more effectively. But here again there is a dearth of activity to improve content targeting and personalization around the subscriber. Yet I would argue that the subscriber business is more valuable for operators at a time when pay TV is still enjoying healthy growth while advertising is under increasing threat from online services.
Perhaps that is because all the talk this past year about dealing with data, is not yet being matched by action on the ground. The people who are really getting their hands dirty with TV data bear the scars from cleansing it. The data we deal with in TV indeed can be dirty and comes in all shapes and forms, often unstructured. Turning the raw commodity into useful material for analytics is still a developing art and we did not see much of that in evidence over the past 12 months. I predict that next year or most certainly in 2017, “cleansing data” will be a key buzzword.