As the modern media landscape has grown, entertainment tech giants such as Instagram, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix have raised the bar for online experiences.


It’s not just the content they’re delivering - it’s the highly strategic and personalized way they deliver it. 

There’s serious content intelligence behind the ways that media companies keep us glued to screens - and these experiences have become so common that online users have begun to expect this level of customization from every digital platform. 

According a 2019 study from Salesforce, nearly 65% of online visitors expect their experience to adapt based on their actions and behavior. 

While research publications and journals may not inherently have the same appeal as the latest Netflix series, there is a lot that publishers can learn from the way that today’s media giants are delivering content and orchestrating personalized customer experiences.

Hyper-Personalized Content Delivery

Netflix’s algorithms are constantly collecting massive amounts of data about what each individual viewer is watching.

They know a whole lot more than just your favorite series. They know which actors and directors are your favorites; how your genre preferences change on the weekends; when you paused, fast-forwarded, and rewound; when you stopped halfway through season 2, and when you picked it back up again. 

These content intelligence insights build a profile of how specific users are consuming content, and are used to automate highly personalized content recommendations within the app. (It works, too! Approximately 75% of Netflix’s watch numbers come from their recommendations algorithm.)

Even the cover art used to promote a show is customized to your preferences. Take, for example, the cover art for the movie Good Will Hunting. 

If Netflix knows you’re a fan of romance movies, Good Will Hunting might appear in your recommended titles with cover art of Matt Damon and Minnie Driver leaning in for a kiss. If comedies are in your regular rotation, you might see cover art containing Robin Williams instead. 

Scholarly publishers can take cues from this strategy to deliver more effective content recommendations based on reader behavior. Consider how (or if!) you currently identify trends and patterns in the types of content various segments of your audience are engaging with. Are you promoting the right events or pieces of content onsite, through email, and through ads? 

The more clearly you can see data about how your readers are engaging with your existing content (page views, read depth, topics, types of content), the better you can identify what they want to read next. 

Snackable Content Intelligence

Spotify collects massive amounts of listener data across devices; but they’ve also managed to do something that few others have by packaging individual user data in such a way that it’s widely shared - even celebrated - amongst their users. 

In addition to using broad listener statistics in advertising campaigns, Spotify unveils their much-anticipated Wrapped feature each December. 

Spotify Wrapped shares ultra-personalized stats like how many minutes of music people listened to, favorite artists and songs, and how close someone is to being a superfan. According to Spotify, more than 90 million people engaged with Spotify Wrapped in 2020. 

Spotify also packages this data for artists, showing them how many streams their music got, number of listeners, and where those listeners were located. This serves as much more than just a fun look at aggregate listener data - it’s also a wildly successful retention tactic. 

Scholarly publishers can find inspiration in the way big media companies report and package content intelligence insights for their contributors. What if you could show each library or institution exactly what content consumption looked like for their readers? What if you could report article-level metrics directly to authors? 

Targeted Ad Experiences

Disney+ recently announced plans to release an ads-supported membership for their streaming platform. Ad buyers will be able to make media buys that tap into Disney Select, Disney’s curation of more than 1,000 highly refined segments built using their deep well of first-party data. 

This gives advertisers an opportunity to reach very specific audiences, but it also helps Disney+ ensure that audiences are getting very tailored ad experiences. 

As Open Access makes it harder for publishers to rely on subscription revenues and limitations on cookie-based targeting makes it more difficult for advertisers to find their audiences online, publishers have a similar opportunity to lean into first-party data collection as a way to monetize content by delivering highly targeted ad experiences.  

But in order to create the segments that commercial advertisers and sponsors want to reach, you have to have a comprehensive view of demographic and behavioral profiles for each individual engaging with your content.

Let First-Party Data Drive

The big tech companies aren’t just pioneering new ways to serve content - they’re all early adopters of first-party data strategies. The growth strategies of Netflix, Spotify, Disney+ and other top media giants are built around understanding their audience on an individual and aggregate level to deliver a better experience and anticipate what they want to see next - and they’re using first-party data to do it. 

A CDP connects you with your first-party data, collecting and connecting disparate data from all of your platforms, resolving the identities of your audiences so that you can clearly see 360 degrees for each audience member.

Hum was purpose-built for scholarly publishers and other content-driven organizations - which means our platform was designed to make it easy for publishers to access a complete view of each reader, author, and institutional decision maker in your ecosystem, and to act on those powerful audience and content insights.

Interested in learning more about Hum CDP, or the ways that leading publishers are using CDPs to create a better reader experience? Learn more!

Curious about other media tech trends that publishers are adopting in the year ahead? Download Silverchair & Hum’s The Future of Publishing report, free.