Getting to know viewers on an individual level can pay dividends for broadcasters, says Ruth Peters

How did Sky Italia gain such a deep insight into their audience that they increased redemption rates on a loyalty offer by 950%?

This figure sounds so unlikely that you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an exaggeration.

But, when Sky Italia wanted to improve viewer acquisition, churn and product up-sell, they had to be certain the right methods were being used.

Sky used advanced new technologies to gain unprecedented insights into their viewers – and then compared the results with those from existing targeting techniques.

Sky Italia already had good knowledge of their viewers based on the packages they buy, such as sport, movies and culture.

However, they recognised that to sharpen their edge over competitors, good knowledge wasn’t good enough. Sky needed to gain a deeper knowledge of their customers than ever before - and then use this insight to produce tangible results.

Sky devised a competition with a chance to meet the star of one its top shows, Masterchef Italia, as the main prize.

Entry was through a Facebook login where those registering were asked permission to access their profile, to enable a deeper, personal understanding of their likes and interests.

This social data was matched to the customer information Sky already held.

Identifying patterns

Using unique algorithms to identify underlying patterns and signals in the data, Intent HQ created an ‘Interest Fingerprint’ for each individual competition entrant.

This data structure encodes millions of concepts and links them based on ontological, categorical, semantic and affinity-based relationships.

Ontological relationships are derived from WikiData, semantic and categorical relationships are extracted from Wikipedia and affinity relationships from millions of social network profiles.

This approach ensures that when someone talks about a specific TV show, for example, it’s possible to understand what else they will be interested in – from other TV programmes to their preferred retail brands or fast food. Sky Italia discovered that participating customers didn’t need to be reduced to a ‘Masterchef fan’ label.

They could also be understood in terms of other Sky properties – for example, they might like Masterchef, but also enjoy F1 – or be keen film buffs.

Using this insight, Sky Italia tailored a loyalty offer based on cinema tickets.

They then compared the engagement of a standard group of viewers (those who would normally be targeted with Sky offers) with those that the analysis suggested had an affinity with movies. A random number from the latter group was also targeted by ads on Facebook.

The email open and click-through rates of the two latter groups (which were filtered through Intent HQ’s analysis) showed a significant increase compared to the control group.

However, the real rewards came from the redemption rates.

There was a 450% rise in those redeeming the offer in the first group targeted with Intent HQ’s tech – and a 950% uplift in redemption from those targeted using the combined approach of both Intent HQ and Facebook targeting.

The benefits here are huge.

This kind of insight will impact on decisions from how audiences are targeted by marketers, advertisers and sponsors right through to the development of programme content and even on the presenters chosen to deliver this.

The technology behind these insights is a leap beyond anything seen before and the full potential is yet to be realised.

But with competition becoming more intense than ever, it’s clear that broadcasters need to begin to understand audiences on a more granular and personal level.

Ruth Peters is VP of marketing at Intent HQ