By Niklas Björkén, Director of Innovation, Accedo
As consumers, we’re all fairly used to being faced with the standard VOD browsing display design of grids and shelves of categories and recommendations. We also know that this style of content delivery can become overwhelming, with a 2017 report by Ericsson ConsumerLab stating that people spend an average of 51 minutes per day searching for shows they want to watch. However, what this display method provides is control. Recommendations are personal and content is grouped in appropriate categories.
We’ve been focused on seeing whether we can enhance design and improve the selection process for viewers. The OTT market is incredibly competitive, and platforms are incredibly focused on dealing with churn. Without set contract lengths, it’s very easy for OTT subscribers to hop from one platform to another if they’re not enjoying the content being presented to them. Understandably, platforms want to get user experience right to keep their customers interested.
Introducing changes successfully
When brainstorming ideas, the team concentrated on what we wanted to achieve. The app should grab someone’s attention, keep them in the app and make them want to return. Of course, it ultimately needed to make content discovery easy. One of the main challenges we faced was getting information to customers without overloading them with information. The standard presentation within OTT platforms is via a small cover image and its title. Changing from this raised a challenge – how can we empower viewers without overwhelming them further?
Our thoughts turned to Apple’s App Store redesign. Although the App Store isn’t VOD focused, Apple faced similar challenges when it came to delivering its content. The attention-grabbing information was hidden behind an image to streamline the site, however it meant people could inadvertently scroll past something that they would be interested in. To try and improve its method for recommending apps, Apple made a move towards creating short, magazine-like articles curated by experts. This was very well-received; a study from Sensor Tower shows that this move increased downloads of the apps featured by up to 800%.
Producing curated content certainly makes selection easier. With the internet offering infinite product choices to consumers, people are becoming used to looking for expert opinions before selecting them for themselves – 93% of buyers are influenced by reviews when making a purchase! The influencer market is a great example of this – according to the Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. Drawing on this, it makes sense for OTT platforms to curate and deliver parcels of content to the user, depending on their interests.
We created Accedo Stories which presents the viewer with an experience where they can select a category, e.g. movie, documentary, boxset, so that the platform can then present them with a curated selection of content depending on their interest. Categories could include, ‘Space Week – our top picks’, ‘90s Sitcoms’ or ‘Feelgood Dance Films’. This method removes the need for endless scrolling and delivers a personal and organic way of finding content.
Packaging bundles of films and shows helps people select content depending on their tastes, mood and even the time of year. The articles, written by experts, sit alongside the content and give an insight into the background of the collections and shows selected. This easy to digest, additional information reflects what consumers enjoy reading: in-depth reviews about genres and recommendations by experts. Of course, recommendation algorithms do a great job of suggesting content based on past choices however people are beginning to really appreciate reading bespoke selections and opinions of experts. We’ve also kept the app easy to navigate by adding quick links to trailers and of course the important ‘favourite’ button so that viewers can watch the content when they have time.
Staying ahead in OTT
In OTT, you must keep striding forward and innovating to keep at the forefront of user experience. Pairing high-quality customer experience with quality content is the best way of minimising churn. Carefully curating collections removes search anxiety and means that people spend more time doing what they turned up to do: watching great content!