Top 2023 digital trends fueling the future of media and entertainment

Top 2023 digital trends fueling the future of media and entertainment

Picture this.

You’re coming home from a long week of work, ready to unwind with your favorite show. Maybe you’re getting caught up on those melodramatic Roys from Succession, or maybe you’re more in the mood for the new Bridgerton spin-off Queen Charlotte.

Either way, whether it’s Logan or Lottie, at some point the focus will land on the star of the show, taking their place at the center of the screen.

And that’s where the media and entertainment industry is right now — standing firmly in the spotlight.

Over the past decade, as disruptors like Netflix and Amazon Prime TV burst onto the scene — and were later upstaged by players like Peacock and Disney+ — the streaming environment has seen a surge of suppliers. And each of them boasts a wide range of content as they try to compete not just with each other but with social titans like YouTube and TikTok.

As we dig into our recent 2023 Digital Trends — Media and Entertainment in Focus report, conducted in partnership with Econsultancy, it’s clear that for media and entertainment brands to stay in the spotlight far into the future, they need to focus intently on personalizing the customer experience.

55% of brands in the industry say innovation will be key to building customer value. The number of media executives prioritizing personalization leapt a significant 18 percentage points.

Ultimately, future success in the media and entertainment industry depends on a few core action items:

  1. Precisely understand and anticipate customer needs. Pricing packages aren’t your superstar — your experiences are. So make them dazzle by getting the best picture of what your customers want and then bringing that to life.
  2. Keep an eye on your changing audience. Gen Z is on the rise, heavily shaping how your brand should engage. And they’re moving away from mainstream channels to more exciting, unique platforms and methods of interaction.
  3. Go all in on data. As you build market-leading experiences, you’ll draw in more consumers and encourage them to interact more meaningfully. As a result, you’ll get more contextual information to help fuel better personalization and drive retention.

But that’s just the beginning. Our 2023 Digital Trends — Media and Entertainment in Focus report also sheds light on where brands are both struggling and succeeding when it comes to delivering the best-in-class experiences audiences expect. So that we can help guide your focus — and your objectives — as you build and execute your strategies for 2023.

Let’s get into the details.

It’s time to focus on retention

For a while now, media and entertainment has been all about customer acquisition. But as we deal with an ever-changing economy, brands need to give retention top billing. In fact, 86% of marketing and CX execs in the industry expect economic conditions to significantly impact revenue growth.

In the post-cable world, most households now have at least one streaming subscription — and many have several. This means acquisition is an expensive fight because you’ll have to try and attract customers away from your rivals. Instead, it makes sense to focus on keeping the customers you already have.

61% of industry executives are prioritizing ways to make sure they retain customers rather than trying to drive revenue through acquisition. 81% of brands will be developing and launching new products and services to reduce churn.

There are plenty of ways to bring retention to the forefront. One example is bundling, which has worked well for streaming. Take Disney+ as one case study. It gained more than 137 million new subscribers in three years by bundling its trio of services: Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Today, the combined reach is 205.6 million subscribers around the world.

With all that said, maybe the most telling data point from our report is this — nearly half of senior executives agreed that if they had one big bet to improve customer experience (CX) in 2023, it would be evolving their model to encourage retention and value of the customer relationship.

And if you want to do that, you’ll need to prioritize personalization.

Lifelong loyalty is built with greater customer value

It’s going to take more than star-studded casts to keep your customers around. You’ll need to make sure your services are relevant to each individual and nurture each relationship one on one. When you do, you’ll not only boost loyalty — you’ll improve the level of consideration each customer gives your brand.

And media brands are taking note. More than half of industry marketing and CX pros believe experimentation or innovation in content and delivery will be a top driver of engagement and retention. Plus, there was a big jump from 2022 to 2023 in the numbers prioritizing personalization, up 18 percentage points from 28% to 46%.

In short, if you want to nurture relationships, you’ll need to deliver hyper-personalization. And that means trusting in the vast amounts of accurate, recent, and relevant customer data you track across channels. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Very few companies can currently offer personalized experiences based on what they understand consumers might want in the future rather than what they have explicitly said.

Only 22% of marketing and CX executives can personalize based on customers’ history of behaviors and interactions across channels. And only 17% can do so based on intent or prediction.

Still, when companies collect enough contextual information — and then blend it with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning — they’re able to model the most likely behaviors and outcomes. As a result, they can build personalized journeys at every turn.

And now is the time to act. With generative AI on the rise, consumers anticipate it to be built into how companies do business — as long as it’s used ethically. For marketing and CX leaders, the possibilities are massive:

But AI isn’t the only game-changer right now. Social platforms like TikTok and BeReal are becoming hotspots for new brands and media personalities — especially for Gen Z. And it’s proof that the traditional routes to market aren’t necessarily a priority anymore.

Let’s take a look at Spotify, one of the major media disruptors of our time, and how they do it well.

A spotlight on Spotify

With 489 million active users worldwide as of 2022, Spotify provides personalized recommendations based on listeners’ habits and preferences. In early 2021, the brand patented a technology that personalizes content based on a person’s emotional state, gender, age, or even accent.

Using a decision tree to refine those recommendations, Spotify leads its approach with technology — guided by human activity, like a listener providing input — to make the entire process more efficient.

In other words, Spotify doesn’t need to wait for the customer to tell them what they want — the media titan can just deliver it. This is just one example of what the future looks like for the media and entertainment industry.

Data is a major revenue booster

Today, even if a fan heads to the Golden 1 Center to watch the Kings play live, or a reader peruses a physical copy of the New York Times while sipping their coffee, the media and entertainment industry is absolutely digital first.

That means brands have access to huge amounts of data, which opens up major opportunities. The trick here is to find key insights among your piles of data that you can turn into meaningful experiences.

And when you do, you kick off an incredible cycle of growth.

That said, there are still some challenges you’ll have to overcome. A major one is third-party cookie deprecation, which will force brands everywhere to improve first-party data. In fact, our survey found that 55% of marketing and CX leaders identify using first-party data to understand customer sentiment, behavior, and preferences as their most pressing challenge when it comes to monetizing customer data.

What’s more, 37% cite managing data in line with customer expectations and regulatory requirements among their most pressing challenges. To overcome this regulatory issue, you’ll need to create an environment where customers willingly and transparently share their data. And you can do that by providing a value exchange that encourages customers to share. A great example of this is when you finish a show and Netflix serves up recommendations based on your viewing behavior — and then you pick a show that looks interesting to you.

Another trend to watch is the rise of free, ad-supported TV (FAST) — channels like Pluto TV or Tubi. With this new mode of media, brands will need more detailed customer data to create successful revenue streams. That’s because advertisers are going to want more granularity and insight into their audiences.

Shifting back to the industry landscape as a whole, Paramount+ is one success story you can look to. It uses addressable ads in both streaming and linear TV, and this has resulted in significant revenue. In addressable ads, viewers get messages that are automatically selected based on the data Paramount+ has about them, including age, food or travel preferences, and more. It’s a fantastic look at what many people call “the holy grail of personalization.”

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One last trend to be aware of is the move toward using secondary partner data. Although still in its early days, with only 15% of respondents saying they do it, it’s currently a missed opportunity for media and entertainment. Since this is such a heavily partnership-based industry, there’s a wealth of insights to share around.

Still, don’t let all these emerging trends get you down. The point is, there’s still so much we can do with data — whether it’s improving its transparency or sharing with partners. And when you do, you’ll open so many doors to incredible and relevant customer experiences.

Creativity is the fuel for experiences that wow

You could have all the data in the world and know just how to use it, but without time to create the right experiences, you won’t go the distance.

Industry marketing and CX leaders agree. They found that being overwhelmed with data and racing to personalize across multiple channels left them with little time to be creative. And ultimately, they couldn’t deliver the types of amazing experiences that would drive retention — and fuel an ongoing cycle of engagement and loyalty.

On top of all this, content management is also impacting brands at every step of the way:

Still, there are some encouraging signs. Companies are getting better at planning their content in a way that delivers results. In fact, 85% of industry marketing and CX pros say they will streamline their content lifecycles from start to finish in 2023 — all to achieve digital content excellence.

What’s more, automation remains a major way for businesses to unleash creativity. By using the right tools, you can tap into automation to help free up your teams to higher-value work.

Xfinity is one brand reaping the benefits of automated work management. With the right tech in place, the company was able to give its creative teams more time to create, with a 700% increase in delivered project velocity in the first year.

“We wanted our creatives spending every hour creating. Every hour that they’re not trying to toggle between systems and figure out where to get a job number, or where to post an asset because they’re in a tool that’s familiar to them on a day-to-day basis, is an hour gained in terms of real creative output.

Christopher Grove

VP of Operations, Xfinity Creative

There’s a stark difference between companies with a unifying CX platform and those without. Those who outperformed in the media and entertainment industry in 2022 were almost 50% more likely to have a unifying platform than those who just matched or underperformed in the sector.

Ultimately, it comes down to streamlining your work processes to free up your people to do what they do best — think outside the box and create the experiences that will help your brand stand out.

Move boldly into the future of media and entertainment

The name of the game for this industry is retention and loyalty. And you can get there by pulling together your data, building amazing experiences based on insights, and freeing up your teams to be as creative as they can be.

Check out our full 2023 Digital Trends — Media and Entertainment in Focus report to get even more insights and ideas to help you stand out and keep your brand at the center of your customers’ lives.

And if you’re ready to start building your strategy to get there, we’re here to help. Learn more about how we’re helping brands across the industry connect their audiences, fans, and subscribers to the media and entertainment experiences they love most.