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Mobile Engagement and Video on Demand

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As more people are looking to video on demand to find new content to watch, cementing the position of default platform of choice is now an essential part of any VOD product. Providing users with a great discovery experience is a key part of this. Push notifications could enable a VOD product to own the conversation around what to watch. But as case studies from mobile engagement experts Urban Airship demonstrate, to be successful it is crucial that users are given a compelling reason to opt in and to learn the user’s preferences and behaviours so that messaging is sent at a time which is contextually relevant.

Traditionally, linear broadcast television provided arguably the ultimate lean back viewing experience, through which broadcasters could build a unique and powerful relationship with their viewers. Scheduling and continuity answered the question of what to watch, created event viewing and set the watercooler agenda for the following day. Audiences could just sit back and enjoy the content.

But audience behaviours are changing. Viewers are increasingly coming to video on demand services to discover something new to watch.

...audience behaviours are changing and viewers are increasingly coming to video on demand services to discover something new to watch.

Capturing some of the broadcast television magic to build a strong relationship with viewers is essential for VOD platforms vying to be their platform of choice. Key to this is delivering audiences the right content at the right time.

Push notifications could allow VOD services to own the conversation of what to watch and drive traffic to VOD products. With mobile engagement, push allows VOD products to talk directly to users, encourage them to discover new programming and build a positive relationship between user and product.

A successful push notification strategy requires a considered approach.

Mobile engagement experts Urban Airship argue that push should be treated as a privilege, and digital products should only push desirable content, or risk being deleted.

Urban Airship’s work integrating push notification strategy into digital products using their mobile engagement platform provides some insights into how push should be used. For notifications to be a success, knowledge of context is key.

As well as providing a compelling reason to opt in and giving users control over the notifications they receive, it is essential that push messaging contains relevant information delivered at a time which suits the user’s schedule.

A successful push notification strategy requires a considered approach.

ABC News allowed users to highlight stories which they wanted to follow. They used push to provide users with “timely, ambient awareness on relevant topics”. Linking push notifications to video resulted in a fivefold increase in live video streaming.

Push notifications can be used to create event broadcast. Oregon Public Broadcasting’s app saw a fivefold increase in the live streaming audience in response to a push notification signalling a live radio debate. While this example is for a live radio broadcast, it highlights a the potential for VOD to leverage push notifications to create event viewing.

Offering rewards for early engagement is key for getting people hooked on a product. When users downloaded US DVD rental service Redbox’ app they were sent a notification offering a free rental if they signed up to the service. The notification was opened 33% more than typical notifications and the voucher was redeemed three times as much as its average offer.

By encouraging people to sign up, Redbox was able to offer a more personalised user experience and, significantly, “...start [users] on the path toward habitual engagement and more frequent conversions”. The immediacy of notifications and convenience of message centre access was highlighted as important in encouraging behaviours.

These case studies illustrate why it is essential to understand the context around which a user engages with a mobile product. Urban Airship’s recently launched Connect provides insights into behaviours in context, making it possible to send more contextually relevant messages and provide a better user experience.

Combining the learnings from Urban Airship’s case studies with our own research, we can begin to identify where push could enable VOD products to own the conversation around what to watch and provide a more personally relevant discovery experience.

Urban Airship’s C​onnect​ provides insights into behaviours in context, providing more personalised mobile engagement for a better user experience.

From interviews with people about their viewing behaviours we have found that during early evenings TV and video content is generally low engagement, easy viewing as background noise to cooking and eating dinner, checking emails and social media updates and chatting with friends and family. Viewing is still dominated by linear broadcast at this time, with dependable old favourites such as Friends and The Simpsons filling the space.

Audiences become more engaged at around 9-10pm where content becomes more gripping and complex and demands a higher level of concentration. This is the space where VOD is beginning to take over viewing.

Mobile engagement could be leveraged to own the conversation around what to watch.

These observations is demonstrated by figures released by BBC iPlayer, which shows on demand viewing peaking around this time.

Mobile engagement strategies could be leveraged by a VOD product to own the conversation around what to watch during late evening viewing. A well timed push notification highlighting a relevant piece of content available on that particular service just when the viewer is beginning to consider which engrossing film or drama they want to watch could nudge them to go into that VOD product to make their decision.

Once through the front door, the viewer can uncover the variety of content on offer, and, with a well designed user experience, will be encouraged to come back for more.

With a variety of siloed VOD platforms vying for audience attention, push notifications can be a powerful tool in attracting audiences to using a particular product. A well executed mobile engagement strategy can place a VOD service at the forefront of the audience’s mind, making it the destination for viewers deciding what to watch.

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