Using KPIs to drive profitable telco-content partnerships

Digital content is vogue.

Now, more than ever, people across the globe are consuming greater quantities of different kinds of media, including news, music, books, and films, via digital channels. The shift towards digital content is guided by many factors: online content is cheaper, more varied, readily available, supports on-demand access, and provides extreme customization, to name a few.

Underscoring the disparity between traditional and digital channels is the fact that, during the pandemic, the viewers of online TV surpassed those of broadcast TV among Gen-Z and Millennial users. In the same demographics, more listened to music streaming services instead of radio and more accessed online news instead of physical press. As global smartphone sales proliferate and network innovation and data speeds continue to improve, digital is reaching far more users in the past year than ever before. Hootsuite’s Digital 2021 Report states that since January 2020, mobile users have grown by 93 million and mobile connections by 72 million.

Content partnerships are exploding. Here’s why.

Telecom operators seeking to leverage the revenue advantage of customers aggressively consuming digital media want to pursue avenues to collaborate with content creators and content aggregators. The opportunity is real: A study across 5 Asian markets reveals that 42% of users feel that having a bundled media service encourages them to spend more on their mobile or fixed-line telecom plan. It is no surprise then that video streaming, OTT, and value-added service providers are in demand.

While this is exciting for telecom, a few bottlenecks surface. For instance, how do they decide what type of content is relevant to their subscriber base? In a sea of content providers, how do they choose the most profitable ones? Finding the answers to these questions is difficult, particularly since ascertaining such criteria lies outside the scope of a telecom operator’s core operations.

To truly tap into the potential of content-based revenue streams, telecom operators need an innovative strategy to evaluate, choose, and measure their partners.

Using KPIs to key partner management challenges

From a business standpoint, telecom operators want to know whether the content provider or aggregator being onboarded is legitimate, beneficial, and provides content that is relevant to the telco’s users. Two seminal questions faced by telcos are:

1. How do I vet partners before onboarding? 

Before determining whether the content is relevant to a user base, one should first have an idea about different content key performance indicators (KPIs) and discover data for each of these. Some parameters to consider are content relevancy, content shares, content downloads, content popularity, and user reviews.

Such information may reside online, within different content aggregator platforms (like ratings on IMDB or likes on Spotify), within external databases, and on internal systems. The data sources are numerous, and data must be pulled from these sources and analysed to arrive at a decision. This is a tall order for just humans to do. Each KPI varies based on the type of content, making it extremely complicated to track. Above all, none of these actions lie within the domain expertise of telecom operators.

An automated and configurable KPI-based approach to partner onboarding equips telcos with appropriate content-specific parameters for different content partners. With this, they can easily identify partnerships that will contribute to revenue growth. A useful workflow leveraging new technologies is listed below:

  • Define content-specific KPIs to assess whether the content fits within the telco’s business model and landscape
  • Capture data using APIs from distributed but relevant data sources and map these to KPIs within a matrix
  • Integrate all data on a single platform and apply analytics to arrive at a pre-boarding score
  • Assign different thresholds based on scores to automate actions such as approval, applying conditions, re-evaluation, rejection, and more
  • Configure thresholds based on scores
  • Automate reports to recommend actions, conditions, and SLAs for on-boarding

It will not only drive faster and informed decision-making but also promote seamless onboarding for VAS and OTT partners.

2. How do I ensure my chosen partner is beneficial?

Measuring partner performance is vital to ensure profitability. As users search for and find the content they enjoy, they are likely to continuously engage with the telecom operator and avail or consume services, especially if the content is curated well. This means telcos must be on top of their game, constantly assessing the type of content being made available by their partners.

Say a content aggregator has launched a new TV series, but the telco observes that viewership is scarce. Reasons could vary: The quality of content may be poor, which is the content creator’s responsibility. The price of the series could be marked higher than usual, which depends on the content aggregator. The issue of price is significant for telcos since nearly 49% of users report that they are likely to cancel their video subscription and 38% of their music subscriptions if costs increase. Similarly, the underlying issue could be slow network speeds, resulting in a poor viewing experience. This falls under the purview of the telecom provider. In each case, the resolution lies with a different entity, i.e., revising content quality guidelines, providing a pricing discount, or upping network capacity.

To sustain profitable long-term partnerships, telecom operators need frameworks that track partner performance and encourage consistency. Here too, KPIs bring in clarity for smarter decision-making through data that is accurate, captured in real-time, and granular for intelligent insights. Coupled with new technologies, a KPI-based approach can enhance partner evaluation by helping operators:

  • Define configurable KPIs quickly for numerous content partners based on content types
  • Leverage APIs to capture data from different systems about the customer, network, and partner behaviour
  • Conduct root cause analytics to understand and resolve issues like low engagement, missed opportunities, lost sales, and more
  • Assess the success of campaigns and promotions for new releases
  • Recommend actions to course-correct and ensure high-quality content is delivered without disruption to users
  • Simplify auditing of partners and their performance, and transform this into a proactive rather than a reactive task

Cement partner delight and operator profitability

Telecom operators need partner lifecycle management solutions that help them handle partner interactions in a seamless and transparent manner. The need of the hour is for a partner management system that:

  • Acts as a single point of contact to manage the relationships with providers, aggregators, and merchants on a unified platform.
  • Supports partners, end-to-end, across the journey of onboarding, negotiating, contracting, reporting, assurance, billing, reconciliation, dispute management, etc.
  • Ensures accountability and visibility, both for operators as well as partners, into processes, KPIs, and SLAs, laying the foundation for rewarding relationships.
  • Provides partner enablement through a single system to easily share documents, training materials, FAQs for partner-related requests, and other information, enabling transparent collaboration across the ecosystem.

Integrated partner lifecycle management empowers telecom providers to find the right partners, track pricing models, assess content KPIs, and evaluate partner performance without shifting their focus from the core business. It also provides insights that can drive success in other functions such as revenue assurance, sales enablement, and network planning.

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