Special Report – Data and its role in content creation

June 15, 2016

Modern content is a difficult beast to tame. Not only is more content available than ever before, but people are also consuming it in more ways than ever before as well.

Which means you have to be clearer than ever before on knowing who you are talking to, and why they are listening.

Ooyala are one of the leaders in not just offering companies the platform to showcase their content, with clients like Arsenal, Chelsea, Sky Sports and ESPN, but also in collating data to give their clients an insight on who they are talking to.

Rags Gupta, General Manager of Ooyala’s EMEA operation, outlined how his company had built its product with data at its heart:

“The continued notion of data and analytics, that’s something that is core to Ooyala. To understand what type of content resonates with what types of users, when, on which platform. Today it’s not just enough to produce content, you really need to have a rich suite of analytics to be able to make better decisions about it. In the sports world, we’re seeing a lot of interest in using that data for fan engagement initiatives, building a CRM strategy for football clubs, for example, using different media types, video, text and images around that.

The idea of using data to drive content is hardly new, but now it’s becoming an essential part of how a successful content strategy is created. Netflix chooses to invest in House of Cards after the channel used its analytics to work out that subscribers would enjoy a show starring Kevin Spacey and directed by David Fincher. The numbers were correct, and the show was a hit. Gupta admitted the bigger companies’ methods had made people take notice of the approach.

“Netflix and Amazon are very data driven. It’s something, with our technology and analytics, our customers are able to get a very granular view of, they’re able to slice and dice the consumption data to understand why users are dropping off, when, and what can be done about it. We’ve done some projects with some customers looking at engagement drop off rates. That’s leading to the editors and creative talent to be able to make some changes, to have a longer engagement. It’s raised engagement figures by double digits, which has been key for their business.”

In its most extreme cases, it can lead led to ‘click-bait’ or videos that are driven purely to pick up as many views as possible, regardless of content. Gupta emphasised that data shouldn’t solely drive content strategy, but rather enrich it:

“For content creators, it’s a mix. You have your intuition and your own way of story telling, but it has to be informed by data and understanding who you are trying to reach, and very importantly, what type of platform you are trying to reach. There’s content now that’s being created for Facebook, with a very different type of editorial spin on it that, than another platform. For Facebook the first few seconds need to be really engaging so users hover over it and actually watches the video. Which is different from other types of platforms, where you might have more run time to actually engage the user. That’s a small example.”

In terms of engagement, the next battlefield for content creators to fight over is the live platform.


Twitter, Periscope and Facebook have made it easier than ever before to go live to your audience, and engagement rates jump when the content is live. Gupta admitted a land grab was beginning to take place amongst brands:

More and more companies are taking advantages of live as a form of engaging users in the moment. Leveraging platforms like Twitter, Periscope or Facebook live. We’re seeing a lot of interest in live. There are a range of production values and expectations based on the context. A fan watching a sport event on a big screen, they have a different level of expectation than watching something on a Twitter feed.”

“Then there are the YouTube personalities and celebrities. Some of whom have followers larger than TV channels. You have people with sometimes millions of followers, and there is this raw authenticity and access that feels different. It opens up the possibilities. Live content feeds off that. We just signed up a major football player to our platform, they’ll use Ooyala’s product to reach his fans on a very direct basis. That’s just another data point in that pattern.”

The other key learning for content creators, is video is taking over in terms of ad spend. Again, this is hardly new news, but the level on which money is flowing away from its traditional locations is startling. A recent study said ad spending on original digital video programming had increased 114% since 2014. This is very much what Ooyala are seeing as well:

“More and more money is shifting into video ads today. Why? Because they work. The money is flowing from three different pots. First is print, which continues to decline, second is display, your banner units, MPUs. People are moving budgets over to video. Finally is television. I wouldn’t say budgets are shifting over per se, but buyers are actually saying ‘We want to combine big screen TV ads with other types of ads on a tablet or phone’. We’re seeing a lot of demand and growth in that area. But what you will see is other types of ad formats. Ads on a webpage itself, or branded content. We’re seeing more and more of branded content, especially from print publishers and frankly that’s a big opportunity for brands as well.”

The market may be becoming crowded. But while audiences’ have more choice in content than ever before, more data than ever is being generated by that audience than ever before.

The question brands must ask is ‘Who are we talking to?’