Five Ways Streaming Video Platforms Can Better Understand Their Audience

What clickstream data reveals about viewer preferences and actions

The streaming video space is rife with turmoil. From intense competition within a crowded field of options to the introduction of ad-supported tiers and other new pricing models, streamers face a rising tide of challenges. Which is why having deep, data-driven insights about viewership is so important right now.

But let’s face facts: A streamer that understands what their viewers are watching is only achieving a baseline of insight. 

What streaming video platforms also need to know is what content visitors viewed prior to arriving on a particular site, to better understand emerging viewership trends. They need to better grasp how product interests drive program viewership, and vice versa, to create new revenue streams. And they need the ability to map out the typical viewer journey from content promotions to on-site views, to create more efficient and effective show marketing strategies.

These are exactly the types of insights that clickstream data is particularly effective at extracting — and it’s why every streaming platform should consider adding this kind of alternative data set into their overall data picture.

How else can it help? Here are five key ways that the clickstream can aid in improving a streamer’s performance.

1: Enhance Content Decision-Making

Greenlighting new projects is always a tricky business. After all, audiences are fickle and you’re playing with an awful lot of money. So it’s imperative to make a smart bet to keep subscribers and revenue flowing.

Clickstream data can help, though, by revealing the paths that lead viewers to specific types or content on a site. 

Say we know a majority of web users visit home remodeling sites prior to visiting our platform. This, along with our primary data showing good performance for home remodeling content, would suggest a new home renovation show would be a good idea.

This is a simplistic example, but the bigger point is clickstream insights will typically offer valuable clues about viewer interests on the larger web. And this in turn can significantly aid decision-makers in determining which show to move into production.

2: Reduce Abandon Rates

Knowing what keeps a viewer on the site for an extended period of time is another important data point. But while every streamer has a basic idea about which of their shows are “sticky,” few have a real insight into how to improve this stickiness across the entire library.

However, a clickstream data pull can sometimes help identify patterns in user attention prior to visiting the streamer’s site, helping the platform to make wiser choices to enhance dwell time. 

After all, if a large number of users abandon competitor sites after three content teasers have played and you find the same is true for you, it might be time to rethink how content promotion operates on your site.

Similarly if you find users who watch science fiction on other sites immediately watch another sci-fi show upon completion of the first, it may mean you need to improve your end-of-series show recommendations.

3: Get Ahead of Content Trends

Reading the trades and listening to the industry buzz is the way most entertainment executives identify programming trends. But let’s face it: it’s not leading, it’s following.

Sure, if everyone is having success with police procedurals, you’d be a fool not to follow along. But in the end it’s more of a defensive move than an industry-defining statement.

Clickstream data can help you look beyond what other content producers are creating, to find what new things are captivating users — not just today, but over the last two, three or more years. 

So now when you see that nearly everyone who visited your site over the last year has also been checking out a new dance meme as well, it could be your opportunity to be the first-mover on an entirely new programming trend.

4: Improve Show Promotions

The breadth of the content world can be overwhelming. With such an abundance of choice, it’s incredibly difficult to attract new viewers even to first-tier content, let alone second- or third-tier shows.

But what clickstream data can do here is help you identify where the audience is spending their time online. This in turn can surface new places or channels to promote shows, as well as reveal the indirect paths viewers may be taking to your site.

Equipped with this knowledge, it enables a streamer to build a more nuanced and effective promotional program that accounts for where your audience actually is.

5: Deepen Competitive Insights

It may seem obvious after all we’ve said here so far, but it bears mentioning that the clickstream is also an essential component of modern competitive insight.

Knowing how web users interact on competitor sites, both before and after they visit your site, can provide invaluable intelligence about what is and isn’t working for them. Further, it strengthens and supports your understanding of your own efforts to attract and keep your viewers.

Now when you find a competitor’s latest promotional campaign, clickstream data can quickly show you how it has impacted their traffic, before, during and after it runs. You can even benchmark it against previous campaigns they have run, against the campaigns of all your competitors, or against your own promotional efforts.

Just to be clear, we aren’t claiming that clickstream data is a panacea for all the challenges facing the streaming industry. After all, anonymized web traffic data can only take you so far.

However, it does offer you the unique ability to go back in time to assess traffic shifts over both short and long periods of the past, giving you an unparalleled perspective on the business. And it should be obvious by now that it can make a huge impact on the understanding of your overall data picture. 

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