Let’s run through the who, the what, the where, the why, the when, and the how of today’s media market.
The who, of course, represents the client or consumer. Perhaps this is someone you have targeted specifically based on their preferences and interests, or someone who accessed your content organically.
The what is the media product you are offering; a high-quality, well-researched piece of content that will resonate with your targeted audience.
The where must be wherever this client, consumer, or lead is found. We are operating in an omnichannel environment. Businesses must be flexible enough to support this.
The why can represent many different things, but must integrate with your long- and short-term objectives.
The when… well, the when is right now. It’s a fast-paced market, after all.
And, the all important how – how can we make this happen? By adopting an over-the-top (OTT) approach to media streaming.
The OTT streaming model
So what exactly is over-the-top streaming? OTT streaming simply refers to any method of delivering streamed content to a user over the internet while disrupting traditional structures of billing and distribution.
In essence, there are accepted means and methods of delivering content to users, but OTT model adopters simply go directly over the top. This leads to a far more straightforward business environment, but one that might not be welcomed by all figures in the industry, particularly those with a vested interest in preserving the old ways.
We can see this OTT approach in all aspects of modern digital life. Expats living abroad once had to pay serious money to call their friends and family back at home; now they simply sign into Skype or use Facetime. Music fans used to shell out $20 for a CD; now they have access to an ocean of music at their fingertips. Television viewers once had to wait for their favorite show in the schedule; now they just click a link in a menu and away they go.
Life has never been easier for media subscribers and fans of art and culture. For this, we must thank the innovative minds who shattered the status quo and moved the industry forwards.
With this in mind, what comes next? How can your business connect with these OTT advantages?
The key considerations
1. High-quality, reliable video streaming
First and foremost, the media product has to be top notch. This is the bait on the hook that will draw users into your offerings and encourage them to develop a closer relationship with your company.
To support this, you must have the capability to provide high-quality streaming services whenever and wherever they are required, across multiple channels and to multiple, simultaneous users. Increasing numbers of providers are investing in reliable cloud services to ensure that their offerings to users are seamlessly delivered
2. A focus on UX
The end user must always come first when adopting this model. Remember: the primary reason for the success of OTT is that UX is so dramatically enhanced. Customers find themselves paying less, experiencing more choice and greater convenience – all factors that contribute to an exemplary experience.
With this in mind, look to support this enhancement of the user experience at every turn. This includes investment in the research and development of your services, optimization of the user interface, and a commitment to incredible service through both automated and human channels.
3. Powerful content management system
Unless you are planning to deliver your content on an ad hoc basis, you are must be able to store and manage large volumes of media. Your channels can experience no disruption if your OTT offerings are to be successful. Always remember, convenience is king. Seek to make your systems and your content delivery architecture as airtight as possible.
A powerful content management system – or CMS – is not simply a desirable addition to your media marketing arsenal. It is a necessity. This will give you and your team a neat platform via which to upload, manage, deliver, and track content. Invest in a CMS that suits your objectives and integrates with your strategy.
4. Billing flexibility
Flexibility and agility are two of the primary concerns for any business looking to pursue an OTT content delivery model. It was the relative inflexibility of traditional delivery channels that led to the OTT revolution in the first place, so businesses adopting this route must be careful to avoid these same pitfalls of rigidity and unresponsiveness.
This means monetizing your content in any way that is appropriate. Perhaps you want to introduce a pay per stream/download pricing structure, or maybe you would prefer to offer subscriptions for a monthly charge. There are many paths to choose, but remember to continually appraise and re-assess what is working and what is not in order to stay on top of the market.
5. Integration with existing commercial channels
Your OTT media strategy should not exist in isolation. Instead, it should be a key component of the wider structure of your business. When you deliver content to a user, you have their attention. This means, you have the perfect platform for delivering advertisements – provided you don’t go overboard – or for cross-marketing with other products.
Putting this into practice
Ultimately, building an OTT solution from scratch is prohibitively difficult. Even crafting a solution using a combination of integrated content management systems, user experience design systems, and other digital components, which come together to form part of a wider whole, is not something most companies have the necessary time and resources to deal with.
Instead, businesses wanting to get themselves involved in this OTT model of content delivery are looking towards pre-existing platforms. These platforms offer customization and personalization, enabling businesses to make their OTT strategy their own, while also providing a solid structure from which to launch reliable, great quality content.
IBM/ SAP’s Dhara project provides just this sort of platform to businesses looking to tap into the OTT streaming movement. For more information on the project, view here.
Disclosure: While this post is sponsored by SAP, all thoughts presented here are my own.