Data makes content
relevant and succesful

House of Cards isn’t merely an intriguing series on Netflix, but is also, as it seems, quite a data success story. The available behavioural data and the predictive algorithms that Netflix run provided the irrefutable truth that a series starring Kevin Spacey, directed by David Finch and based on the highly valued original by the BBC had to be the hallmark for success. Without even looking at a single pilot episode, Netflix invested hundreds of millions. And it’s still reaping the rewards.

Copycat Alpha House not nearly as successful
Does data always guarantee success? And is it wise to put all your eggs into the data basket? No! Amazon Prime can speak from experience. This data giant also wanted to create a hit series based on data. Millions of viewers watched eight free test pilots. Their viewing behaviour was then analysed in great detail. The results from the data crunch came up with a series about four senators sharing a house in Washington D.C.: Alpha House. With viewer ratings of 7.4 out of 10, this series missed the cut of becoming the mega data success it was supposed to be.

So where does the difference lie? Amazon Prime based all its decisions purely on the data of the eight test pilots. Netflix used more different data sets and translated these insights into suitable content. And that is precisely the key to success with data-driven content!

Not only does the way in which you apply and analyse data determine the success of the content, but also how you interpret the data. The ability to not just look at the figures, but to also connect the creative dots. The willingness to experiment, to continue learning and to take on all creative challenges.

From reacting to behaviour to anticipating it
Of course, Netflix doesn’t only use data to produce the right content. Data is employed on all fronts to approach the consumer with personal content as effectively as possible. Viewing behaviour is measured, preferences are recorded and titles we – the consumers – have viewed are all graded. All family members have their own, clearly different Netflix start page and are offered their own active suggestions: “You have to watch this, because it’s perfect for you!”

Technology increasingly offers the possibility to align content with the profile or behaviour of the receiver. Many retailers, however, still need to overcome this hurdle, let alone be able to forecast behaviour and take this into account when creating content. As an example, 86% of all e-mailing efforts by retailers are sent without dynamic or personal content and over 85% of retailers show exactly the same homepage to new and returning customers.


And all this while the retail industry know very well that each form of personalised content has an immediate ‘more effect’ on conversion. 94% of retailers indicate that personalisation is a critical success factor. Luckily, there are also many retailers that have already found the holy grail of personal content.

O’Neill strives to offer every website visitor a unique experience. This goes a lot further than a separate landing page for men and women with personal suggestions. The search and surf behaviour on the website itself has an immediate effect on the way the products are displayed. In addition, data on the purchasing behaviour determines the order in which products and alternative suggestions are shown. The result: a 26% higher conversion rate, order size up by 17% and more intensive use (62% more page views).

Even offline search behaviour can be positively influenced with the help of data and suitable content. US department store chain Macy’s uses iBeacon technology in combination with the mobile app to approach the consumer personally in the physical store. Consumers are recognised as soon as they walk through the main doors. Based on their purchasing profile and the location in the store, the consumer receives personal special deals, discounts and product recommendations or brand information.

World-renowned outdoor clothing brand Helly Hansen has chosen another route to get up close and personal. By incorporating local weather forecasts and GPS locations into the data mix, they are able to repeatedly hit the bullseye on their home page. When it rained for five consecutive days in Germany, for instance, during a period when there should have been a thick blanket of snow, the home page did not display skiing gear, but raincoats. What’s more, based on the location/region, the use of language to describe the products was adapted and the background image was localised. This led to an increase of 170% in conversions and 52% more new visitors.

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