How does content optimization fit into the customer experience?

Customers are served content nonstop. Every day. Around the clock. It can affect how they feel about your brand and the brand experience.  A great content experience can connect our brands and customers.

That’s especially important in the media. Content optimization can help us create those better experiences.

Content optimization isn’t just about the quality or creativity of content. The channels matter as well. For example, the BET entertainment network is on a variety of channels where customers may want to consume its content. That includes traditional cable TV, digital streaming channels and social media, said Bianca Pryor, vice president of insights at BET, where she leads content optimization and tests content.

“And then, of course, we want to know who are these people that are watching us?” Bianca said.

“This must be such an interesting time to work in this vertical,” said Voxpopme’s Vice President of Marketing Jenn Vogel on an episode of “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show”.

“It’s so different than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” Jenn said “I’m thinking about how I was consuming content as a child and the difference to my kid. He’s like, ‘Can we watch this show now for seven hours?’ Yes, we can. There are so many different ways of consuming content. That’s a huge mountain to tackle to determine what people want to consume.”

Bianca said there truly is a “keep-feeding-the-beast” mentality now. “We have to continuously share insights so they can create sharper content,” she said.

  • Consumers want more and more relevant content.
  • Internal teams need to create it and optimize it.
  • Insights professionals and decision makers need to get insights on an ongoing basis.

The setup of a content optimization team

Within the insights group there are three teams, Bianca explained.

  • Content optimization and marketing strategy
  • Ad sales research and sales
  • Data strategy

“And we all work together for the greater good,” Bianca said, adding this setup is pretty common in TV.

The content team helps internal stakeholders — scripted and unscripted shows, digital and social impact, for example. During the last year of COVID-19, Bianca’s team did a lot of research for the social impact team.

Cross-team collaboration

When working with other teams, it’s important to understand the different roles. Who is doing what and what are their responsibilities in a specific project?

“When we work with other teams, it’s primarily because we value their expertise,” Bianca said. “We want them to come in as a consultant. And we love that. It just makes the engagement for that project so much better.”

Sometimes we get help or offer help in doing some of the tasks as well, Bianca said.

How to determine the best approach
for content optimization tests

“I think it fundamentally goes back to what is the business objective and then make sure you design the research to get to that answer,” Bianca said. “What are we trying to learn? Are we trying to move the needle on tune in? Are we trying to move the needle on our total addressable audience?”

The insights team can then be used to inform a marketing brief or even an entire initiative for the company.

It’s also important to think about the right methodology for a particular project.

  • Sometimes, quantitative is best.
  • Other times, qualitative is better,
  • In other cases, a mixed approach will get you the best insights

understand your customers better now

It’s also important to remember the budget available for a project and find the best possible solutions that work within that budget.

“There certainly needs to be a decision point,” added Jenn. “When do we need to be agile and scrappy and move quickly and do research at a low cost and when can we invest a little bit more?”

Read next: How to use video surveys for market research

“The approach should fit naturally into the business it’s in,” Bianca said. “BET is media entertainment and video surveys play a great role in that. Video surveys have a place in media entertainment and especially the times we are in. We can get to the heart of the matter through video and conversation but in the comfort of people’s homes.”

Bianca said she likes how video surveys capture the verbal as well as the nonverbal feedback.

“Their eyes lighting up, searching in the corners of their eyes, their gestures,” she said. “You can really pick up on that through this approach.”

Video surveys to find out about content preference

BET used the Voxpopme video survey platform to find out whether the BET audience was interested in unscripted reality shows.

“The resounding answer was ‘yes’!” Bianca said. “Everyone doing their videos and providing their insights were so into it.”

She said respondents gave ideas and shared a message of Black empowerment and that they wanted unscripted shows on BET—which many saw as a gap in the market.

Concept testing

Concept testing comes in a number of different formats in media.

  • Loglines: This is the copy that viewers see when they scroll through channels. Is that descriptive line grabbing people’s attention and drawing them in to click into watching the show?
  • Positioning: Similar to brand positioning.
  • Content: Show pilots
  • Scripts: “Scripts are harder to do because you don’t want to put 100 pages in front of your fans,” Bianca said.

“We are very keen in understanding the before — before something airs,” Bianca said. “We are also interested in the after something aired, too.”

For example, after the NAACP Image Awards teams did a post-mortem after the program aired.

“Where my gears start turning a bit is ‘what can we do more upstream’?” Bianca said — from where your teams can try to have an impact on the experience that is about to happen. Trying to influence the current experience, as opposed to always looking back, is also something James Dodkins discusses on this episode.

Bianca said BET also does:

  • Focus groups
  • Binge tests: Fans watch an entire series
  • Polling
  • Internal panel
  • Online surveys
  • Video surveys
  • Social media listening

“That’s a lot to bring together,” Jenn said.

“It is and also reference readings,” Bianca said. “How many — preferably, millions of people —watched?”

At the end of the day, the content experience in media drives business. Content experiences also can  help in other markets. But to know what content should be served, what can draw eyeballs, it’s helpful to test the content and optimize it for the best possible customer experience.

understand your customers better now

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