Streaming Forum Preview: Privacy vs. Profit—Who Cares About Big Data?

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A big part of the business promise inherent in online video lies in its unprecedented capacity for targeting and personalisation. Of course, the only way that online video providers can target users and deliver "just for you" recommendations is by the collection of customer data, a proposition that went from being novel and cool to being slightly creepy when the UK and U.S. public became aware of just how extensively it was being tracked by government agencies following the revelations about PRISM published in The Guardian just before last year's Streaming Forum. How far are publishers willing to go in pursuing customisation and personalisation, and how much are consumers willing to allow the harvesting of everything from their demographics to their buying habits in pursuit of getting the perfect recommendation for a movie to watch on a Friday night?

Those issues are at the heart of "Privacy vs. Profit: Who Cares About Big Data?," what's sure to be a provocative panel discussion at this year's Streaming Forum in London next month. Tom Weiss, CEO of Genius Digital will moderate the panel, and he'll be joined by Jamie Mackinlay, commercial director of PayWizard, Andy Nobbs, CMO of Civolution, and James Routley, CEO of The Filter. All four companies are working on delivering the right content or advertising to right consumers, and therefore are at the heart of a delicate balancing act.

"We'll we talking about privacy and how operators should be using their consumers' personal data to improve their service offerings, from recommendation engines to call centres and direct marketing," says Weiss. "In a post-Snowden world the mass collection of data can result in significant consumer pushback, and we'll be debating the balance that needs to be taken between infringing in personal privacy and understanding your consumer well enough to engage with them in a modern day fashion."

The days of a "one-size-fits-all" approach to delivering content and advertising are over, Weiss says.

"With online video services moving into the mainstream, it's becoming more and more important to engage correctly with consumers in order acquire the right content to attract customers, retain them as customers, and market new services to increase the audience further," Weiss says. "Without understanding who the consumer is, what they do, and what they want, operators are shooting in the dark and will be overtaken by more data savvy competitors."

The issues at stake are crucial to any content publisher or operator who wants to move their business forward without incurring the wrath of customers who are more worried than ever about who has access to their personal data.

"Attendees should care if they want to use data to improve their services but are worried about the privacy implications," Weiss says. "No one wants to be headline news for the wrong reasonsm but everyone wants to engage better with their consumer base."

The 2014 Streaming Forum will be held at the Park Plaza Victoria in London on 24-25 June. "Privacy vs. Profit: Who Cares About Big Data" will be at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 June.

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