An Introduction to “Search & Rec”
In the adjoining industrial world of over-the-top video, it was a big deal when hardware provider Roku turned on a feature that lets consumers search across all available OTT services on that device – Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and their ilk.
Example: You’re totally hooked on “House of Cards” (speaking of Netflix), and you want to see what else is available from the Kevin Spacey repertoire. Most OTT video streamers in market today require visiting each service, one by one, to perform the search.
With the Roku update (and to be fair, TiVo has it too, and had it first), a “Kevin Spacey” search would return an aggregated list of titles – what Netflix has, what Amazon has, and so on.
Every time you search, by the way, you’ve informed the “rec” side of the Big Thing that is “search and recommendations.” For instance, it is now known that you like Kevin Spacey. (Especially when he looks at camera with that “told you so” look.)
Next time you search, it’s pretty likely that a Spacey option pops up.
But, if your household is like most others, lots of people besides you watch that TV. And they’re searching for completely different things. Maybe the babysitter searches on “Teletubbies,” while your spouse is more into “Nova.” (And we already know what show you’re binge-viewing.)
Guess what happens? Recommendations get madly skewed. It’s the equivalent of saying “give me something puerile, intellectual and suspenseful.” Uh, okay. (Do elections count?)
Which is precisely where the “personalization” component of the equation snaps in. Riddle me this: For how many years have we heard that consumers will not, they just will not, “log in” to their set-top box? 10? 15? I probably wouldn’t. You probably wouldn’t. This we know.
“Personalized video” is not that. It’s using your tablet, computer, or phone to go into your account and setup the “who’s who” of your household. Because there’s a keyboard under your fingers, not a TV remote, it’s way more doable. I’d market it as “don’t let your spouse’s, shall we say, tastes, gunk up what we can find especially for you.”
The tech-talk around search, recommendations, and personalization is predictably web-ish: RESTful APIs. EIDR. Hadoop. Here’s an example from a recent batch of notes: “We surface everything with RESTful APIs.”
How might cable respond to this particular feature set – searching across services? Being able to search across linear, on-demand and streaming inventory would be a fabulous start. Hint hint…
This column originally appeared in the Platforms section of Multichannel News.