Intertrust's Tim Schaaff Speaks about how Privacy Issues will become more of a concern in connected entertainment

Photo, from left to right: Tom Waters (Jabil), Tim Schaaff (Intertrust), Mike Rich (comScore) and Eric Anderson (Gracenote)

Parks Associates is one of the go-to sources for market research and analysis on the intersection of consumers and the technology industry. They have been sponsoring the Connections event focusing on the connected home for 20 years, long before the current market interest in home IoT. While the industry has changed greatly over the last 20 years, Connections continues to be an important event to get the latest information about and insight into the connected home market. Intertrust is proud that for this year’s Connections US event our Chief Product Officer Tim Schaaff was selected to be a panelist to speak at a session “Personalizing Connected Entertainment: Metrics and Big Data.” Others on the panel included Eric Anderson from Gracenote, Mike Rich from comScore and Tom Waters from Jabil. Schaaff’s rich experience in digital media product development gives him the a wealth of background to discuss how data coming from today’s connected consumer devices can be used to provide personalized entertainment, as well as the privacy issues the use of this data can pose.

One of the initial topics brought up by the panel was comparing the personalization opportunities afforded by two very popular consumer devices, the smartphone and the TV. Everyone agreed that the TV was far behind its smaller cousin in personalized services. Schaaff noted that in general the TV lacks the sophisticated software taken for granted in the smartphone and the personal computer for that matter. “Real time video personalization is hard to deliver” so the TV’s lack of a robust software platform was a major concern said Schaaff. Comcast’s Rich pointed out that some set-top boxes were making progress in this area and data assets that can be used for personalization are available, but putting the two together was still a work in progress. Yet, Schaaff raised the issue that interoperability between different types of data and the analytics was still a work in progress.

Another topic of interest was the role of social media in content personalization. Gracenote’s Anderson said that social media alone is not a solution. “Personalization is the intersection of of social media and return path data; you need all of those.” As an extension, a question was raised about virtual social viewing, something thought to be of interest particularly for sports. Anderson referred to a Samsung study that showed there was a reason many people watch games alone for a reason; they’re really not interested in sharing. Schaaff suggested that social media was the harbinger of a generational shift in content consumption. “If you look outside of our generation, you will see generations of people with very different habits of media…. Any expectations will be totally wrong in China which has a young audience totally focused on the mobile Internet.”

One of the more interesting questions from the audience was how data from IoT could be used in content personalization. The rise of consumer IoT devices has brought a lot of buzz to the tech industry around the possibilities of using data from these devices for many different purposes. For personalized entertainment, one could imagine how a fitness wearable could help a TV identify who was in the room and even know what mood they were in. Jabil’s Waters suggested that these sorts of scenarios could run into the law of unintended consequences, bringing up the example of how the Target store chain used data analytics to send out coupons for baby products and inadvertently alerted a father that his daughter was pregnant before he even knew. Schaaff pointed out that personalization is just one potential use of this data. “This data will have a profound impact and it will be not just for personalization and other stuff beneficial to the consumer.”

In answering this question as he did throughout the session, Schaaff addressed one of the important questions that needs to be answered for data driven content personalization to really take off, namely privacy. For example, with social data Schaaff pointed out how social media already has huge amounts of personal data “but we don’t have any control over it.” IoT data will drive the amount of personal data being captured to even new levels. “We have not yet figured out what to do about invasions of privacy. Privacy policies alone will not protect you,” said Schaaff. As in so many other fields, the entertainment industry will need to continue work on ways of ensuring privacy in exchange for using personal data to drive the industry forward.