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SME 2018: Direct-to-Consumer & the Future of Video Distribution 
Three tips for succeeding in the increasingly crowded field of direct-to-consumer video services: use voice assistants, go local, and never underestimate the value of metadata

As OTT and direct-to-consumer becomes integral to media company's business strategies the big question is how do you get to scale? Panelists at Streaming Media East this week had three pieces of advice.

Talk to X1, Alexa, Hey Google, and Siri

"Discovery is a big issue. Everyone is producing content and it makes it challenging to find," said Joseph Lerner, director of East Coast sales for Xumo. 

Voice assistants are one solution to the challenge of searching out content. "I think we will see a wave of capabilities, it's just another tool that can be used," said Louis Gump, CEO of NewsOn. Talking to your virtual assistant like the X1 Xfinity remote, Alexa, Hey Google, and Siri means you can often find content across multiple devices and consumer platforms.

While viewers may be very fond of the electronic program guide (EPG) that broadcast TV introduced many years ago, it becomes unwieldly when you are searching across hundreds of apps, websites, or OTT devices. In short, delivering content at scale requires creative approaches to generating a better user experience and voice control is one solution to this problem. 

Go Local

Today more individuals, companies, and groups are becoming content producers than ever before. "Everyone in this room can be a content producer," said Magnus Svensson, media solution consultant at Eyevinn Technology. This means that content is much more localized for viewers than ever before. Panelists talked about companies like NewsOn, TEGNA, and the Weather Channel who are creating localized programming which are finding growing audience adoption. 

In a 2017 survey by Altman Vilandrie, 60% of viewers said they were interested in consuming local news, said Gump. His advice to anyone not yet delivering online: "You need to show up to the party." 

Manage your Data Strategy

When designing any navigation system, content distributors need to have metadata in place so their content can be found. If there is metadata about content, you will get a pretty good universal search said Xavier Kochhar, founder and CEO, The Video Genome Project. Google uses publisher metadata, so when viewers search Google to find content, it will be surfaced as long as this has been created based on the standards Google uses. "Without good metadata, content will be virtually invisible to the viewer," said Svensson. "Metadata is the key to discovery, and we're lacking standards in this area." 

While the lack of standardized approaches to categorizing metadata is a pressing issue, on the other side of the screen, viewers are becoming more willing to pay for their content with their own personal data. 

There are three key monetization strategies: ad-supported, subscription, and viewer data. Viewers are becoming increasingly comfortable with providing information about themselves and their interest in exchange for free content. This data can be even more valuable than the other transactional models, but only if this is being aggregated at scale.

How is this done? There are three parts of the puzzle, said Kochhar. Gather data about the type of content being watched, about who you are serving content to, and about what the viewer actually does when consuming the content. Companies like Amazon excel at this. "You need all three of these to operate at scale," he said. Anything less and the chances of not only showing up to the party, but making it a compelling and profitable venture, will be out of reach.

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