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Top 5 personalization strategies to build and win over your audience


Markus Hejdenberg

Head of Sales & Marketing

January 11, 2024

Best practices



Personalization is a potent tool that transforms passive viewing into a deeply engaging experience. We dive into the heart of audience engagement, exploring the top five personalization strategies that are reshaping how streaming services connect with their viewers. 

1. Manual Personalization: Tailoring to Specific Interests and Channels

Use cases:

  • Personalization for Children:

Children's accounts can be manually personalized to offer content that is not only age-appropriate but also aligns with their interests and developmental stages. This ensures that young viewers are exposed to content that is both entertaining and beneficial for their growth and learning.

  • Personalization for Sports Fans:

Sports streaming platforms can provide dedicated sections for fans of specific teams or sports. This could include live games, player interviews, behind-the-scenes content, and in-depth analysis tailored to the user's favorite team or sport. This level of personalization fosters a deeper connection between fans and their favorite teams, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

  • Personalized Channels:

For services with multiple channels, such as Bloomberg's Quicktake and Bloomberg Television, users can be offered a choice during the sign-up process to select which channel aligns more with their interests. This approach doesn't require the provider to create multiple services but allows for a more personalized experience based on user preference. This choice can typically be revised in the user's account settings, providing flexibility and ensuring that the content remains relevant and engaging.

2. Data-Driven Content Recommendations: Optimizing Timing and Presentation

  • Timing of Recommendations:

The timing of content suggestions is crucial. Analyzing user behavior can help determine the best times to recommend new content. For instance, a user who typically watches thrillers on weekend nights might be more receptive to similar recommendations on Friday evenings. 

  • Content Matching:

Matching the content type to user preferences is key. By analyzing past viewing behavior, platforms can suggest similar genres or titles that a user is likely to enjoy. For example, a viewer who frequently watches science fiction series may be interested in newly released sci-fi movies.

  • Presentation of Recommendations:

How recommendations are presented plays a significant role in user engagement. This could involve personalized banners, tailored email notifications, or in-app pop-ups at the end of a related show. The presentation should be visually appealing and contextually relevant, making it easy for users to discover new content seamlessly.

  • Leveraging User Feedback:

Incorporating user feedback into the recommendation algorithm can further refine content suggestions. This could involve using ratings, reviews, or direct user input to adjust recommendations, ensuring they remain aligned with evolving preferences.

  • Predictive Analytics:

Predictive analytics can be used to forecast future viewing patterns based on historical data. This can help OTT platforms to not only recommend existing content but also guide content acquisition strategies based on predicted user preferences.

3.  Visual Personalization: Customizing Thumbnails for Enhanced Engagement

  • Thumbnail Variability:

Different users can see different thumbnails for the same show or movie, based on what might appeal most to them. For instance, a user who frequently watches romantic movies might see a thumbnail highlighting a film's romantic aspect, while another user who prefers action scenes might see a more dynamic, action-oriented thumbnail for the same film.

  • Contextual Relevance:

Thumbnails can be tailored to reflect the context of a user’s previous viewing habits. If a user tends to watch comedies at night, the platform might display more vibrant and humorous thumbnails during those hours, enhancing the likelihood of engagement.

  • A/B Testing:

OTT platforms can employ A/B testing to determine which thumbnails are most effective. By presenting two different thumbnails for the same content to different segments of users, platforms can gather data on which version drives more views and engagement, leading to more informed decisions on visual presentation.

  • Personalized Artwork:

Beyond thumbnails, personalized artwork for banners and promotional material within the platform can also be tailored. This could involve customizing the artwork of the homepage or specific genre sections to better align with the user’s interests.

4.  Personalized Marketing and Offers: Tailoring Communication for Maximum Impact

  • Personalized Emails:

By analyzing user preferences and viewing habits, OTT services can create different audience segments, each receiving customized email content. This could range from personalized recommendations to special offers based on their viewing history. Email campaigns that are personalized in this manner can see a 60-80% increase in click-through rates, substantially higher than generic email blasts. The key is to ensure that each email feels uniquely tailored to the recipient, whether it’s suggesting new releases, reminding them of unwatched content, or offering discounts on subscription renewals.

  • Personalized Notifications:

Timely and contextually relevant push notifications can greatly enhance user engagement. The effectiveness of these notifications lies in their ability to capture immediate attention. By sending notifications at opportune moments – for instance, just as a user is likely to engage with the platform – the OTT service can increase the likelihood of interaction. This strategy involves analyzing user behavior to determine the best times for sending notifications, like suggesting a new movie on a Friday evening or alerting them about a new episode of a series they follow right after release. The key is balancing frequency and relevance to avoid notification fatigue while keeping users informed and engaged.

  • Integrating with Viewing Preferences:

Both email and notification strategies should be deeply integrated with the user’s viewing preferences and habits. For instance, if a user frequently watches documentaries, the personalized communication can highlight new additions in this genre, or if they have been binge-watching a series, a notification about the release of its new season would be highly relevant.

  • Data Analysis for Continuous Improvement:

Continuously analyzing the performance of these personalized communications is essential for refining strategies. This includes tracking open rates, click-through rates, and subsequent viewer behavior on the platform. Insights gained from this data can help in fine-tuning the timing, content, and frequency of future communications.

5. Personalized Ads: Enhancing Viewer Experience and Ad Effectiveness
  • Targeted Ad Content:

By utilizing data on viewers' interests and viewing habits, AVOD services can deliver ads that are highly relevant to each individual. This personalization makes the ad content more valuable and engaging to the user, leading to better conversion rates. For example, a viewer who frequently watches cooking shows might be shown ads for kitchenware or gourmet food products.

  • Reducing Ad Disruption:

Personalized ads tend to be less disruptive to the viewer's experience. Because these ads are more relevant and engaging, they are less likely to be perceived as an interruption. This relevance increases the likelihood of viewers paying attention to the ads and positively responding to them.

  • Evolution of Video Personalization Technology:

As video personalization technology evolves, we can expect a shift in how ads are integrated into content. There is potential for product placement and personalized messaging to become embedded within the content itself, rather than being confined to traditional ad slots. This could lead to a more seamless and immersive advertising experience, where ads are naturally integrated into the storyline or setting of a show.

  • Contextual Ad Placement:

The effectiveness of an ad campaign is significantly enhanced when ads are displayed alongside relevant content. OTT platforms enable advertisers to align their ads with content that resonates with their brand message and tone. For instance, adventure gear ads could be placed alongside outdoor adventure series, ensuring a contextual fit that enhances the ad's relevance and impact.

Mastering personalization is key to capturing and retaining a diverse audience. These top five strategies offer a blueprint for turning every viewer interaction into a uniquely engaging and memorable experience.


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