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Does Ad Personalization Really Matter to Streaming Consumers?

How truly impactful is personalization and consumer targeting for streaming advertising tiers? Some recent findings have called into question the widely accepted idea that users will naturally appreciate and become better engaged with well-tailored marketing. Evan Shapiro, CEO, ESHAP, discusses this topic with Smriti Sharma, Head, Consumer Insights, Publishers Clearing House, and Matt Farina, Senior Vice President, Content Distribution, NBCUniversal, in this Streaming Media Connect 2023 clip.

Referring to a recent survey, Shapiro says to Sharma, “It showed that the overwhelming majority of users either didn't care about [or like] personalization. Am I getting that data correctly?”

“Absolutely,” Sharma says. “That was very shocking, at least [considering] the fact that every company has invested so much [over the last few years] in personalization of things that they do. But when we did the study, 54% of the people really didn't care about personalization of ads. 35% didn't like personalization and 11% liked personalization. So [while] the vast majority of the people didn't care…they will watch ads when they want to [or] they won’t watch ads, but they didn't care about personalization, which was shocking.”

Shapiro asks Farina, “When you think about personalization and the vast majority – 60 plus percent either liking personalized ads or not caring one way or the other, do you go beyond that and say, ‘Okay, so how do we further the experience to personalize it for the consumer? But then also, are there other new commerce or other economic benefits on the other side of that?”

Farina emphasizes that personalized advertising is still important but not the sole approach for fully optimized user engagement. Scale is essential, he says, but even more importantly, “The other piece is making it easier for buyers to transact on our inventory,” he says. “There's a lot that goes into it on the offering piece, but on the personalization side, in addition to the data and the catering [of] an ad to an individual user, there's all these enhancements or improvements where we can use the opportunity from an advertising perspective to delight the consumer. Things like ‘pause ads…’”

“What’s a ‘pause ad?’” Shapiro says.

“If you happen to pause your TV and want to go get a drink or something, in the background, you get a branded experience slate, which is an ad spot, effectively,” Farina says.

Shapiro says, “That's an interesting new technique to avoid the disintermediation of advertising. And then it's kind of like the first screen experience. Samsung takes a tremendous amount of advantage of that. I don't think Roku takes nearly enough advantage of it, to be blunt. I think there's a tremendous amount of real estate that's unsold there for that first screen. But you're using the pause screen as an interesting way to add dollars, and it's a personalized ad. So it tends to fit the environment that the consumer is watching it, too.”

Farina says, “And then you think about scarcity. You know, the traditional television model has a lot of advertising per hour. Could we do less on a Peacock experience?”

“Do less, charge more!” Shapiro says.

Farina further discusses thinking ahead to new distribution models altogether. “We're focused on commerce as a product where we can add a shopping experience directly in-line with the video itself, which is proving to be a pretty successful venture for us so far,” he says. “We've got a partnership with Anzu, a gaming company where we're doing in-game ads now, which is really interesting for us. So I think we're really looking to innovate in this space quite a bit for sure. So yes, going beyond the traditional targeting or personalization.”

Learn more about ad personalization and targeting at Streaming Media East 2023.

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