Why media content providers should care about privacy as well as personalisation

Rather than biting the hand that feeds them, TV and video content providers can work with customer data to unlock growth.
03 September 2020
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Bas De Vos
De Vos

Global Director – Audiences and Targeting, Media Division

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Unlocking growth for TV and video content providers in the personalisation age demands a new relationship with consumer data. In a viewing world controlled by the consumer, measurement techniques have advanced significantly too. But with great data comes great responsibility.

Consumers are becoming more and more ‘data aware’

This is sparked by the promotion of GDPR, CCPA and other privacy legislation, publicity around data breaches, and consumers’ own resentment of repetitive and over frequent online targeting. Consumers retain ownership over their data. They loan it to companies who can in turn use it to provide them with better products and services. 

Industry-accepted currencies for measuring audiences’ actual viewing behaviour have never been more important, not least as the means to plan, buy and sell advertising, and to commission, schedule and sell programmes. At Kantar, we conduct trusted TV and video measurement services that fuel $86 billion of advertising spend worldwide. We know that meeting and keeping the highest research standards must be maintained.

Using data for good

A total view of audiences requires us to treat consumer data with respect, and to act within the spirit as well as the letter of data privacy regulations. Everyone involved in reaching audiences has a responsibility to use consumer data properly and in a privacy-safe way.

As part of our DIMENSION 2020 research study, we interviewed a number of industry leaders who identified data privacy as a concern.

“User privacy is paramount. Users should have transparency and control of the collection and use of data, and measurement data practices must always respect user privacy.“

Ryan Stonehouse, Global Head of Insights & Planning – YouTube, Google

The majority of the 8,000 connected consumers we spoke to are concerned too, worried that tailored content may be putting their privacy at greater risk. 


As an industry, we need to treat consumer data with respect, doing more to explain and promote the consumer benefits that come from using their data responsibly. Failing to do so threatens co-operation from respondents, risks increased cynicism about online advertising, and could ultimately lead to data privacy breaches.

In a changing measurement world where consent, not content, is King, cross-media panels are critical. They are properly consented by those who agree to participate, and can enable both data sources to co-exist.

Two distinct data sources need to coexist

One data source seeks to answer what consumers are doing within the walls of a given platform (deterministic, mainly behavioural data), and the other, fuelled by representative audience samples, seeks to address why they’re doing it (people based measurement).

The industry is increasingly realising that the balance has swung too far towards behaviour-based data. There’s been too much focus on metrics designed to help executional programmatic buying (answering the ‘what is being viewed?’ question), at the expense of research and insights that assist in planning decisions (the ‘why are they viewing?’ question).

We’ve explored this in more detail in the full report here, gleaned through consumer and industry leader interviews.

Size isn’t everything

Measuring the size and nature of an audience is important, but no longer enough to unlock growth - whether that’s defined as growth in advertising revenue, audience share or subscription renewals.

Catering to the existing subscriber base, and examining their isolated behaviour on a platform but ignoring their total media consumption, is a mistake. If you want to grow, you will need to understand the behaviour of subscribers on other services, and audiences who are not your subscribers!! 

A complete picture, not a partial one

To understand, retain and grow audiences, we need to use data collected through both deterministic behavioural and people-based means. Both are essential if the industry can meet the vision of advertisers – measurement that takes into account total video viewing, regardless of device or source.

Discover more findings from our consumer and leader interviews in our report Unlocking audience growth. This report uncovers important considerations for those striving to build audience ‘stickiness’ in a complex and disrupted TV & Video market.

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