Prediction Series 2019: Interview with Ron Downey, CEO, Massive Interactive


Tell us about your role and what inspired you to start Massive Interactive.

I founded Massive Interactive with Derek Ellis, our Chief Creative Officer, in 1996. The goal was to create a tech company that fundamentally changed the way people engage with entertainment. Since then, we’ve worked with broadcasters and operators around the world — including AT&T, BBC, Sony Pictures Television, and DAZN — to deliver some of the most widely used entertainment experiences.

In November 2018, Massive became part of the Deltatre family. The Turin-based company has spent the last three decades building the digital portfolios of brands such as UEFA, NFL, and FIFA. Deltatre’s expertise in live broadcast and scaling deployments to millions of concurrent viewers is a continuation of our vision.

Where does the user experience sit in the marketing strategies of broadcasters and operators?

The user experience should be at the heart of marketing strategies for broadcasters and operators. Content has become commoditized. It can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. And there’s no shortage of quality programming to keep the masses entertained either.

Standing out in a crowded environment like this depends on injecting new life into the user experience. It needs to be optimized for different viewers rather than treating the audience as one. And getting this right boils down to one main thing — relevancy. After all, in 2019 if a viewer isn’t watching TV with others, why should they be offered the same visual cues, content, and promotions as everyone else? Making this a reality depends on bringing together three different areas of any video service: the platform, the data, and the UI.

Hitting this trifecta in video delivery is what’s needed to offer a tailored user experience that caters for different subsets of the overall audience, tastes, and preferences. It’s a tried and tested approach for making any OTT service ‘sticky’. Not only for the purpose of presenting the video asset library in the most compelling way but for getting the right content in front of the right consumer at the right time, which naturally increases ARPU and reduces churn.

What are the biggest challenges for marketers in creating more engaging, individualized video experiences for consumers at scale?

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face stems from the lack of control they have over the video experience. They’re being hamstrung by legacy technology. Many OTT services have to rely heavily on engineering teams to make the most minor changes to the interface or add a new feature. And in many cases, updates need to be rolled out individually for each different device – iOS, Android, smart TV, etc.

Newer user experience and content management platforms make it possible for small teams of schedulers and marketers to test, adapt, and evolve the front end of video services without involving the engineering department at all — freeing the latter up to pursue higher value activities. It’s a way to redesign the UX in real time, introduce new content layouts, rebrand, or flip the business model entirely in response to changing market demands. Marketers can also use platforms like this to push promotional upsell campaigns to specific audience segments across different devices.

Underpinning all this is the need to tap into usage data from subscribers. This supercharges personalization efforts, making it possible to roll out real-time UX alterations based on what the data shows the audience wants to see. It’s an approach that can also be used to identify a segment of users who are likely to churn. Tailored promotions could then be targeted at them to prevent this.

How will new developments in Marketing Technology help improve personalization in 2019?

The latest developments in Marketing Technology and content delivery capabilities are coming together for the future of video streaming. As these new platforms that can deliver both continue to evolve, a range of new opportunities will present themselves to content owners and broadcasters looking to take advantage of live-linear (such as sports, eSports, and more) as an avenue for growth.

In 2019, we can expect to see advanced social media integration help to support the goal of reaching the right audiences with the right content. Whether it’s mass appeal or niche, individual viewing habits and interests will be paired with the ability to share content or highlights directly from within streaming apps. In fact, social will become a much more important aspect overall, with brands creating communities of like-minded fans through live chat and more advanced social media integration.

We can also expect to see enhanced engagement as a result of joined up data-led marketing efforts. By making it easier to discover relevant non-linear content that supplements live broadcast — such as exclusive behind the scenes interviews with the stars of a particular programme — the capability to create more tailored offerings for consumers will improve marketing’s utility across the board.

What role will AI have and how will that start to impact video services in the next 12 months?

Machine Learning technology is set to have a big impact on user-level personalization, which will start coming to fruition for video in 2019. When AI is incorporated as part of a platform that underpins a video service, it can be used to create a much more tailored experience for the viewer. That results in an immediate consumer benefit and a tremendous opportunity for marketers too.

By using Machine Learning to help analyze audience behavior, it becomes easier for marketing teams to identify the right personalized content, promotions, and up-sell messages for each subscriber. And because AI technology evolves and improves with each data set it has access to, the benefits for marketers will increase through 2019 and beyond, turning insights into immediate results that’ll bolster the bottom line and further drive ARPU over time.

Ron is the CEO of Massive Interactive and has led the company to its current position as a globally recognised and awarded technology pioneer. Prior to founding Massive in Sydney, Australia, in 1996, Ron served as the General Manager at Terabyte Interactive in Auckland, New Zealand. Before moving into digital technology, Ron worked in the advertising and music industries as a writer, composer, artist, and producer.

Massive Interactive Logo

Massive is an OTT UX specialist. Its platform is trusted by leading telcos, broadcasters, and content owners to present targeted user experiences to their audiences. Headquartered in London, with offices in New York, Sydney and Prague, Massive works with customers such as AT&T, BBC, Sky, and Sony Pictures.

Comments are closed.