Understanding the Whole Consumer: Digital Monetization for Media and Entertainment

Media and entertainment companies work hard to paint a complete picture of consumers, build loyalty, and satisfy their ever-changing desires. It’s all part of an effective digital monetization strategy.

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Imagine for a moment that it’s time to kick back after a long day of work (at home). You slip off your work slippers, close your laptop, and grab your phone. An hour later, you’re a few levels deep into your favorite video game, and you find yourself stuck. What’s holding you back? Are you slaying dragons and need an extra weapon pack to defeat them and unlock your destiny? Is your chicken farm in need of some new siloes or better incubators? Whatever your mission, you are faced with a choice: make an in-app purchase for an advantage, or keep your money and carry on without assistance. What you choose is up to you, but you’ve just unwittingly been immersed into the depths of a vital strategy for media and entertainment companies: digital monetization.

Digital monetization, at its core, is all about a complete view of the consumer: what you like, what products you buy, what makes you happy, and what will make you buy more. Whether you realize it or not, each day you’re being profiled by dozens, if not hundreds, of companies looking to paint a complete picture of you as a consumer and, in the end, retain you as a loyal and happy customer.

A Holistic Strategy Is Key

Why is it so important for media and entertainment companies to have an effective, holistic monetization strategy? Well, fire up your laptop or smart TV and scroll a bit to see why. Consumers have more options than ever before. We often have to Google movies to track down the right streaming service, decide if we’re willing to pay, and try to remember to cancel that subscription if we have to sign up for a new one. It can make you feel like a tiny person trapped in a pinball machine as content bounces from service to service, forcing you to track it down when it’s time to binge. The pandemic spurred massive changes in the media and entertainment landscape, and as its effects continue to unfold, the impact of these changes is likely to continue.

The average adult spends $273 a month on subscriptions, and we spend money without even realizing it, since media and entertainment firms have figured out how to make the decision to subscribe seem less like a transaction and more like a reward.

Historically, monetization was built on the cornerstone of advertising: radio and TV commercials, print ads, sponsored newspaper columns, and the like. And certain events still drive massive ad revenue—there’s a reason the “ADBOWL” during the Super Bowl every year is still a thing. Web advertising is a massive industry and it affects us all on a daily basis. But that’s not the whole story anymore. The tide has shifted (and keeps shifting) to models based around consumer revenue. This is a fundamental change in the way we consume content. 

The “subscription economy” didn’t even exist a few years ago, but now it impacts each of us every day. From paywalls on news sites to bespoke, curated boxes of merchandise that land on our doorstep each month, it’s a big part of our everyday lives. Don’t believe it? Take a minute and tally how many subscriptions are taking money from your bank account each month. 

A recent article shared a prediction Deloitte made several years ago: By the end of 2020, the average adult would spend about $100 per month on media subscriptions. In reality, it’s up to $273 a month, according to a 2021 survey. While stay-at-home pandemic behavior certainly played a role in that increase, the trend was well on its way before then. And we spend money without even realizing it, since media and entertainment firms have figured out how to make the decision to subscribe seem less like a transaction and more like a reward.  

The Tech Behind Personalization

Every day we interact with multiple companies and services that offer a personalized, curated experience. We’ve come to expect it. These companies spend a great deal of time and energy finding new, more focused ways to turn “window shoppers” into loyal customers. For one, that’s driving growth and change in advertising technology (adtech). Consent and data privacy are paramount, and companies are making sure their technology is ready for the challenge. 

Whether you realize it or not, each day you’re being profiled by dozens, if not hundreds, of companies looking to paint a complete picture of you as a consumer and, in the end, retain you as a loyal and happy customer.

These companies work to understand how we interact with content and how satisfied we are, and to make sure their platforms are easy to use and provide the highest value to us. Now, this creates some challenges because billing, pricing, and revenue models may not be set up to handle the type of flexibility it takes to adapt to consumer desires. “Buy now, pay later” and all the free trials we forget to cancel and get charged for later require a level of adaptability.

Companies are feeling the need to focus on customer satisfaction first, and figure out how they’ll price and bill later. So the technology they rely on to run these operations must be flexible and built for lifetime interaction. Workday’s flexible architecture is one example: It’s built around one customer contract, and contract lines can be added as the strategy grows and changes to accommodate new subscriptions, consumption tiers, and products. That means the tech, media, and entertainment companies have what they need to keep customers happy without wreaking havoc on their systems.

However you approach your monetization strategy, this much should remain constant: The customer is at the center. So whether you’re trying to convince them to make an in-app purchase so they can finally conquer that difficult level, or convince them to keep your streaming service on their subscription list, an authentic picture of the humans you’re trying to reach should never fade from view.

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