AWS for M&E Blog

Speed, relevance, insight: how streaming services can master effective content discovery and engagement

This post is authored by Ido Bar Oz, Strategic Cloud Alliances Director, Braze. The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

Raise your hand if you have seen the “Are you still watching?” prompt after streaming your favorite show for hours. Whether it’s an old favorite, or a new series that just dropped, binge-worthy content is the lifeblood of streaming services.

Even the most popular content needs a comprehensive engagement strategy to maintain long-term success in an increasingly crowded streaming space. Developing that strategy requires a mix of personalization, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and well-timed messaging.

Braze uses all of the tools to help brands that use Amazon Web Services (AWS) master content discovery and create world-class digital engagement strategies. But as more entertainment and media brands shift toward streaming, Braze is witnessing faux pas that prevent some legacy brands from becoming as competitive as they could be. Here’s a look at what’s working—and what’s not—in today’s streaming landscape.

2020: The year of streaming

The year 2020 will likely go down in history as “The Year of Streaming” for two reasons: The world’s unanticipated shift toward working (and socializing) from home, and the explosion of new streaming services. As the world sheltered in place, the demand for home entertainment skyrocketed. In fact, in March alone, research conducted by Braze and Apptopia found a 30.7% increase in streaming sessions. This positive trend encourages more brands to invest in existing platforms, or launch new ones to meet consumer demands for easy access to content.

Streaming services saw significant growth in engagement this year, including a 30.7% increase in streaming sessions during March 2020

Streaming services saw significant growth in engagement this year, including a 30.7% increase in streaming sessions during March 2020


In 2020 HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock launched. You can’t ignore the mouse in the room. Launched in November 2019, Disney+ burst on the scene with 22 million downloads in its first four weeks. It has already beat Netflix as the most installed video app in the United States, with 14.1 million downloads vs. 11.9 million, respectively. No other competitor has dethroned Netflix until now, which means that the crown for the king of streaming is up for grabs—if a brand has the right strategy.

If content is king, engagement is queen

“Content is king” is a common phrase in marketing. Since high-quality content is what keeps customers engaged, it’s vital that brands create it frequently and consistently. This also holds true for streaming services. When a new season of a binge-worthy series drops, daily active users (DAUs) and streaming sessions increase dramatically. Adult Swim, for example, dropped part 1 of Season 4 of “Rick and Morty” and saw a 504% increase in DAUs over the one-month period that followed. And these “boosts” from new seasons can last long after the show is over.

Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty saw a 504% increase in daily active users following the premiere of its fourth season

Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty saw a 504% increase in daily active users following the premiere of its fourth season


However, great content is only the first half of the equation. Brands that truly excel pair high-quality content with the right engagement strategies to drive even more growth. During the months surrounding the launch of Disney+, top performers were 21% more likely to send push notifications and 300% more likely to send in-app messages on mobile-native channels. Brands that combine push and in-app messages see the highest level of engagement, according to a Braze Cross-Channel Data Report. The challenge lies in sending the right messages to the right users at the right time.

Legacy marketing clouds are out, real-time personalization is in

Discovering new ways to forge human connections with customers through relevant and memorable messaging experiences is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many brands struggle to make this happen with legacy marketing clouds built on batch data management that can’t meet the demands of their business. From an ever-growing catalog of on-demand video content (85% of Netflix’s spend on content goes to originals), to the launch of new streaming services, legacy marketing clouds just can’t keep up with the speed, orchestration, and real-time personalization needed to connect with today’s consumers.

Today, entertainment and media brands must develop tailor-made distribution and content discovery strategies to compete. These strategies must be personalized and use AI/ML to display the right content (trending feeds) and notify (message) subscribers about recommended content.

Enter Amazon Personalize and Braze

While that may sound like a tall order, it’s easy to achieve when you combine the power of the Amazon Personalize with Braze. A customer engagement platform that helps brands integrate modern stream-processing and data-driven frameworks into their engagement strategies, Braze partners with HBO and over 75 other entertainment, streaming, and media companies.

The Braze engagement platform, built on AWS, supports proven marketing results for media and entertainment brands. How? By leveraging personalization and AI/ML, in addition to the scale, speed, and agility made possible by cloud technologies.

When brands use AWS and Braze together, they can seamlessly incorporate real-time personalization into marketing campaigns. The Braze Connected Content feature lets brands pull personalized content and product recommendations from Amazon Personalize directly into the platform’s cross-channel campaigns or customer journey workflows, supporting powerful, in-the-moment message customization at scale.

The benefits include the ability to easily:

  • Create high-quality recommendations. Brands benefit from access to the same ML algorithms uses to gain insight into customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors.
  • Personalize customer experiences across channels and touchpoints. Brands can create more relevant, unified customer experiences by sending the right message at the right time on the right channel.
  • Deliver personalized campaigns in real time. Brands can build targeted campaigns that include personalized recommendations based on a customer’s current activity with only a few clicks.

With Braze and Amazon Personalize, streaming services can optimize future recommendations based on their most popular content and daily trending feed. Over time, these recommendations grow richer, more accurate, and provide better support for effective new marketing campaigns, resulting in better customer experiences—and stronger marketing results.

The campaigns Braze and Amazon Personalize make possible

Now that you know a little more about what Amazon Personalize and Braze can do, here are just a few ways brands can harness that power.

  1. Video Streaming Email Campaigns: Despite competition from other digital channels, email remains one of the most effective ways to reach customers. A video streaming service that wants to drive DAU growth can use movie and TV recommendations from the AWS engine to send personalized emails based on a viewer’s recent watch list.
  2. Music Streaming Engagement: By sending in-app messages, brands can nurture user relationships and prolong session time when customers are already in their app. A music streaming service could send in-app messages to encourage users to listen to a newly released playlist based on their favorite artist or genre.
  3. News/Media Content Recommendations: Push notifications are great for promoting immediate action and engaging customers who aren’t using your app. A news or other content-focused brand could deliver a push notification to encourage users to view a specific article or video based on their past viewing behavior, driving less engaged users to come back to the app.

Know your audience: custom events and brand success

While deciding which use cases work best for your brand is important, it’s only one step toward creating a successful engagement strategy. For a campaign to reach its true potential, you need to ensure that you’re tracking the data that matters most for your unique brand.

With a customer engagement platform like Braze, brands can use a variety of mobile, web, and OTT SDKs and APIs to easily collect and apply data that’s relevant to their engagement goals. That may be default data (for example, users’ first names) or may be custom events and attributes for more sophisticated use cases.

Brands that take the time to set custom events and attributes as part of their data collection strategy are more likely to succeed when it comes to their customer engagement efforts. In large part because every message they send is intended to guide customers toward completing a desired action. In fact, top performing brands in the streaming space are 422% more likely to define conversions based on custom events and are 1,051% more likely to send action-based messages, which are automatically triggered when customers take a pre-selected step or action.

Want more insights?

If you’re interested in learning more about the latest trends in streaming performance, content drivers, and customer engagement, read our report: 2020: The Year of Streaming.

For more information about how Braze uses the power and flexibility of AWS to support exceptional customer experiences, check out Braze cofounder and CTO Jon Hyman’s piece “Transforming the Customer Experience at Speed and Scale with AWS and Braze.”