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Google's Take on What CTV Viewers Want

The CTV viewing experience continues to evolve as new UX developments arise. Still, many experts and users agree that the experience is essentially broken, with too much choice and too little personalization as users’ #1 complaint, far from where it needs to be. According to Google TV Senior Director of Engineering Shobana Radhakrishnan in her Streaming Media Connect Keynote, the critical challenge is understanding what viewers want and letting that drive other decisions.

Simplifying Paid and Free Content Discovery

Radhakrishnan notes that simplifying paid and free content discovery is the key to a better TV experience for users. “The TV experience has come a long way, but it's still kind of broken,” she says. “[Users] are not sure what to watch, where to watch it, what is free, and what they have to buy. Free apps, cable providers, live TV, on-demand TV. There are just way too many choices. I've actually heard people say where things were better with cable. It felt a lot simpler. We want to fix this experience so that people spend less time searching and more time relaxing with a good show, and they can easily see where the free content lives.”

Google’s Unified Approach to Integrating Capabilities and Content

“We came up with a TV experience and a free content experience that brings together capabilities and content from Google search, Google Assistant, and YouTube TV,” Radhakrishnan says. “We also have several third-party integrations included in our offerings. To think about the ecosystem, intuitively, it's useful to think of the streaming business as a flywheel. The first step is the core. It's to have that delightful user experience where they love what they see. They keep coming back to the platform. So, we need to create that returning user satisfaction level, which leads to high engagement. Combining that with large-scale means we deliver the device and platform quality for global devices. So we need to operate at the low-end, medium-end, and high-end markets to be able to serve content and, therefore, ads.”

The Importance of Personalization Based on Regional Preferences to Build Credibility

“When you combine this with the ability to personalize for the user based on regional preferences, then there is a foundation of credibility that we have with the user where we can start moving into monetization in the form of ads, especially instream ads, like the FAST model, because instream ads are technically like an interruption for the user,” Radhakrishnan says. “So you really need to build that credibility from the platform perspective before that feels like a meaningful balance to the users. Again, because people find value in free content on the platforms, we see time and time again in our user service that having access to free content is a big part of satisfaction. So when this flywheel is moving well, the business can start making the opportunity for itself to reinvest into further scale, further innovation for users, and then further eyeballs for monetizing using display ads. And then the flywheel keeps moving.”

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