The internet of things (IoT) is only in its infancy, and it is already raising the bar for what consumers expect from their media experience. IoT promises unprecedented levels of personalization, easy access to content, and technology that enables unique, immersive experiences beyond what has been offered before.
In fact, as suggested in the EY report “Internet of Things: human-machine interactions that unlock possibilities,” IoT will not only change how consumers find content, it will change how content finds them. The increasing sophistication of IoT sensors makes it possible for devices to read, gauge and understand consumers at unparalleled levels.
Right now, finding relevant content is still very much something the user has to do actively. IoT offers the ability for sensors to recognize individual consumers and offer suggested content on the basis of their past behavior and preferences. For example, a smart TV may be able to sense who comes into the living room and offer playlists tailored to that person.
But the potential goes far beyond just recognizing the individual. When a smart watch or other sensor-enabled device starts communicating with the TV, consumers can be offered content that fits their mood or activity level. If their heart rate is elevated and respiration indicates they are in the middle of an intense workout, perhaps an action movie is in order. If they are in the bedroom with the lights dimmed and their heart rate is down, a more calming choice might be offered as the consumer prepares to sleep. The data from these already ubiquitous sensors will also allow for much more targeted advertising messages, which may be more effective for marketers – while at the same time being less intrusive to consumers.
The personalization will work for both consumers and marketers. As we start to get into more personalized consumption, brands will collect more personal, attention-based metrics rather than just a snapshot of what may be on the screen in the house. Active attention will become a much more valuable currency than it is today, spurring media companies to create even more compelling and immersive content.
Self-driving cars a $20 billion opportunity for content?
IoT will also open up more platforms for media consumption and change the experience on existing platforms. The car might prove to be one of the biggest opportunities. As self-driving cars become a reality, time previously spent driving could be redirected to onboard media and entertainment (M&E).
EY analysis estimates that this could present a $20 billion revenue opportunity for the video industry in the future.
Cars are not the only potential platforms for IoT expansion. Imagine a washing machine with a small screen and a sensor that recognizes the person loading laundry and offers short burst of news or celebrity information – or laundry tips. Many gas stations already offer video snippets while you pump gas. What if the pump could read your smartphone and know who you are? Not only would that make payment a lot simpler, but it would also allow for individually customized videos. In fact, IoT can also make authentication more seamless, giving people instant rights to their TV services without having to actively log in.
IoT can also make the available content a much richer experience. To take it a step further, we can expect media companies to experiment extensively with IoT. Maybe they will put sensors on the actors in an action movie, so that you can actually feel the heart rate of a character running down a back alley.
Things like that can enhance the viewing experience in a multisensory way, to a degree that we haven’t been able to before.
The data gathered by the sensors in connected devices is what will be used by media companies to provide the consumer with the individualized experiences they want. Some data is already being collected by media and marketing companies, of course, but the exact amount of additional data consumers will have to give up to fully take advantage of all IoT has to offer remains to be seen.
Crucially, there are two primary concerns for media companies as they take advantage of the possibilities of IoT: they must ensure consumers do not feel that their privacy is invaded, and they must ensure that the consumer data and the connections remain secure.
Mobile devices already monitor things like users’ health and geographic location. Websites track what people do online and what they purchase, and there is plentiful information available through social media activity. M&E companies will definitely track and monitor a greater degree of behavior through
IoT, but it’s going to be more about how that data is aggregated and used – basically, the actions taken based on data collected that will define the level of invasiveness. M&E companies will need to create a balance between gathering the data they need and ensuring the consumer’s experience is worth the behavioral data they opt to share.
But again, there’s that security issue
In terms of security, the connectivity that enables IoT can open more points of attack by cyber criminals. Those points of entry need to be secured to ensure consumer trust and foster engagement with IoT.
Right now, if your smartphone is attacked, it’s an inconvenience. If your home security, smoke detector or car’s operating system is hacked, it becomes a very real and very personal risk. It is up to media companies, working with device makers and internet providers, to make sure the connections remain secure.
In the end, IoT is both disruptive and inevitable. For M&E companies to be successful, they will have to address risk and quickly innovate to respond to evolving customer needs and deliver rich content experiences.
The challenge media companies face in scaling the opportunities of IoT is getting consumers to opt in and allow their data to be used. The tipping point may come when consumers can understand the value of the freedom to move around the world and pick up their content experience anywhere, while seeing how much richer that experience is.
The author is Executive Director, Media & Entertainment Advisory Services, Ernst & Young, LLP. The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.