By Niklas Heyman Rönnblom, 10 October, 2012.

Ericsson ConsumerLab Report 2012: Overcoming the challenges of Personalizing TV Content and Services

Consumers are increasingly looking for individualized services, offers and products, to better suit their own needs. The 2012 ConsumerLab TV video study shows the importance of being able to access the specific content and services one is interested in, instead of accepting standardized non-personal bundles. More than half the sample consider this “individualized content” to be a very important part of the TV-experience (6 or 7 on a 7-graded importance scale) - that’s a staggering 45% increase since 2010!

The increasing number of personalized and individualized services is a result of the pressure of competing with an increasing number of other services, messages and products in an all connected world. A service that consumers perceive as relevant is often seen as providing higher value. The way many service providers make sure their services and messages become relevant is to base them on personal information.

A typical example of this is the online streaming service Netflix, where recommendations are based on the viewer’s previous movie choices and ratings. Google uses many more parameters when sorting the search results and showing advertisements to its users. Data about your previous search habits and your current location helps to highlight search results and show you advertisements in your vicinity, making them more relevant.

In the case of TV and media, 75% of the respondents in the 2012 ConsumerLab TV video report said they used recommendations from friends and family to help them choose what to watch. These types of recommendations act as a personal ‘relevance’ filter; viewers trust the personal recommendations and preferences of their friends (and certain friends more than others when it comes to specific content genres!)

The challenge for operators is to ensure personal information is treated carefully and respectfully. The 2011 TV and Video Study showed that many consumers want to know what their friends are watching, yet only 21% of the respondents agreed to the statement: ‘It is ok for my friends and family to see info regarding what I am watching.’ The industry needs to look at ways to help consumers feel more willing to share their TV habits with others.

Handling personal information is a delicate issue; among other things it requires trust, transparency and user control. ConsumerLab studies have highlighted that consumers do not want to be forced into revealing their personal information. They want to feel in control by actively opting in or out of this particular service. Using consumers’ personal information without them knowing can deter them from agreeing to more personalized services when discovered.

As we go forward, operators will need to combine personal information and social activity as part of a service that helps consumers find, explore and also finance their content consumption (for instance, how do you pay for Facebook?). This is a great opportunity for those who know how to proceed. Managing the balance between integrity and offering relevant information (based on personal information) will become an even more important issue over the next few years...

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Written by Niklas Heyman Rönnblom

As Senior Advisor, Consumer Insights, Niklas Heyman Rönnblom oversees Ericsson’s annual ConsumerLab research, focusing on understanding current and future consumer trends and behavior. A vital part of the process is conducting and analyzing end-user studies. In recent years Niklas has been focusing on areas including understanding the consumer perspectives of the connected home, app culture, smartphone and TV/video.

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