Big Data and the Rise of Netflix

House of Cards Season 1

by Josh Sklar, President of Heresy, Author of “Digital Doesn’t Matter (and other advertising heresies)”, [email protected], @chiefheretic,,

Over the past decade there has been endless chatter followed by bottomless presentation decks and subsequent consternation concerning how to capture customer data, perform expedient analysis, and make use of it to an efficacious end.

While some study of behavioural patterns on ecommerce web sites has helped fine-tune the process of moving visitors down a sales funnel, most people in marketing really haven’t been able to point to a great example for how all of the time and effort has been worth so much pain and expense.

After quite a bit of education on the subject, most are very aware that Big Data is important and will be increasingly more so as we creep down humanity’s technology roadmap – they just aren’t quite sure how.

The cynics amongst them will even mention that it is commonplace for analysts in large corporations and agencies to manipulate the interpretation of the data to conform to any expectations or goals set out by their clients or supervisors; especially given the lack of real world cases to point to or management’s understanding of how it works.

But now we do have a shining, uncorrupted standard that should put the wind back in the sails of this esoteric topic – we have Netflix.

The streaming/media rental conglomerate is in a very competitive space that has been dominated by multi-billion dollar behemoths for decades and, more recently, flooded with new technology startups that are taking away large bites of business from them whenever they can: both legal, like Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube and very illegal such as The Pirate’s Bay, a place for downloading illegal software and unlicensed media — movies and TV shows from around the world.

Despite the myriad of challenges, missteps, and fierce competition from all quarters, Netflix is doing very well with over 75 million subscribers worldwide (44 million just in the US) and continual expansion into new countries and territories.

Their original, award-winning programming starring big names is bringing in large numbers of new customers, but what’s getting them to keep subscribing once the binge viewing is over is all thanks to what they do with the data they gather.

The company takes note of what each person: is searching for, what’s in their queue, how they’ve prioritized it, how long they keep a disc, how often they stream, what ratings they’ve given to each, the information they look up, and so on then compare it to every other person within a demographic and psychographic subset.

The resulting patterns are then used to make personalized recommendations that are based on nearly 80,000 different searchable categories of all of their content.

We’re talking about subgenres that are literally as specific as: Japanese Sports Movies, Critically Acclaimed Cerebral Underdog Movies, Hidden Gem Mockumentaries from the 1980s, and Sentimental Indian Crime Dramas.

For the on demand generation, it can’t get much more specific or granular.

They then take the viewing habits and channel all of the information back for the purpose of making decisions about which new content to green light and put into production.

Instead of relying on a network executive in charge of programming to intuitively have his or her finger on the pulse of what people will want to see — which usually turns out to be randomly hit or miss – the data shows very clearly what viewers want.

It’s how they listen to the data that is enabling them to keep succeeding in a cut throat competitive landscape – and what is, ultimately, providing their customers with what they want.

Now we don’t have an excuse.

Now we know Big Data works when used wisely.

APPIES Malaysia 2016 Marketing Conference open for registrations!

‘2-day MBA’ in Marketing, ‘TED of Marketing’, call it what you will, and come what may, we will see you on May 19 & 20 at the Eastin Hotel.

•        36 latest Marketing Case-Studies  

•        22 marketing leaders as Judges  

•        3 top-notch Keynote Speakers  

*        4 Game-Changing Panel Speakers

Says Chief Judge Adam Wee Abdullah, Group CMO of CIMB Banking Group about judging the entries, “Clarity in the Objective statement is fundamental. If this is not clear, the solutions will not be clear as well. It is also important to juxtapose the expected outcome against the Objective statement so you can gauge if the strategies are aligned. It’s a bit like looking through the scope of a sniper’s rifle.”

Date:           19 & 20 May, 2016 

Venue:          The Grand Ballroom, Eastin Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Time:           8.30am – 6.00pm

To register, go to APPIES REGISTRATION.

Download full brochure here.

Or contact Ruby on 03-7726 2588, [email protected]

APPIES Malaysia 2016 judges:

• Abdul Sani Abdul Murad – Head of Marketing, HSBC Malaysia

• Ben Mahmud – Head of Retail Marketing, Shell Malaysia Trading

• Eric Wong – Marketing Director, IBM Malaysia

• Fiona Liao – Chief Brand Officer, Prudential Assurance Malaysia

• Jasmine Lee – Chief Marketing Officer, U Mobile

• Jauhar Munir Shaikh – FVP, Brand Marketing for F&N Malaysia

• Loh Keh Jiat – CMO, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd

• Mark Ng – ASEAN Marketing Director, Castrol

• Martin Soong – Marketing Manager, Fonterra Brands Malaysia

• Matthew Ho – Regional Digital Marketing Director, Huawei Technologies Malaysia

• Nirinder Singh Johl – GM of Strategic Communications, Tenaga Nasional Berhad

• Noreen Sabrina – Head of Brand Communications- Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)

• Pan Choi Yen – GM of Marketing, WIPRO-UNZA Malaysia

• Philip Whittaker – Group Chief Marketing Officer, Themed Attractions & Resorts

• Rizan Ismail – Head of Brand Management, PETRONAS

• Santharuban T. Sundaram – Group Marketing Manager, Permanis Sandilands

• Stephane Vilquin – Marketing Director, Campbell Soup Southeast Asia

• Syahar Khalid – Digital Engagement Manager, Nestlé Products Malaysia

• Vincent Chong – Marketing Director of Unilever Malaysia

• Zaki Zin – Marketing Director, Wyeth Nutrition Malaysia

• Zalman Aefendy Zainal Abidin – Chief Marketing Officer, Celcom AXIATA  

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