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Authentication and Digital Media: Improving the User Experience

Accessing and experiencing digital media have become more complicated over the past few years, both for consumers and the companies providing the content. The fracturing of entertainment options, coupled with a decline in traditional pay TV, has forced many consumers to subscribe to a bevy of services in order to access the video content they want to watch. While this situation offers consumers a greater than ever selection of content, it offers a unique set of challenges from an authentication and personalization standpoint.

Consumers are burdened with juggling login credentials; service providers must find the most efficient way to enable access to the content consumers want to watch. Inability to login to service easily and efficiently can be an impediment for consumers and lead to increased churn and negative perceptions of video services. Additionally, services must ensure that the correct users are accessing content only on authorized devices in order to honor their content licensing agreements.

This requirement has led to a number of advancements in authentication technologies and the way that they are used in the digital media space. Authentication today is more complicated than in the past, but the technology to provide an improved user experience for authorized users is readily available for video services. The adoption of connected devices and online video services is advancing, making the need to establish new standards pressing for all stakeholders in the authentication marketplace.

Video service providers and device manufacturers have the opportunity to improve user experience with authorization and personalization technologies.

  • Continue development of AI and machine learning: Many emerging technologies in authentication and personalization are based on identifying clusters of similar users, and thus rely on AI and machine learning algorithms. The more data points that service providers and device manufacturers can provide on their customers, the better these models become, which is paramount to both developing authentication technologies and providing timely and pertinent content recommendations.
  • Unify fragmented services: Viewing data, user data, and recommendation engines are siloed in today’s content marketplace, with each individual service operating in a vacuum. Operating systems, software companies, service providers, and other third-party companies have the opportunity to develop standards and communication tools that attempt to link accounts and content across services and provide a more robust authentication and recommendation service to consumers.
  • Educate consumers: The vast majority of consumers have used usernames and passwords to authenticate video services for significant portions of their life. While other methods of authentication may be more secure and easier to use, consumers may not understand them or may have concerns over data security. It is up to device manufacturers and service providers to educate consumers about the benefits of using certain authentication methods.
  • Ease consumers into new authentication methods: Most consumers are not going to transition seamlessly from using passwords for everything to exclusively using new, layered methods of authentication. Service providers must ease consumers into these new methods, and help them to understand new authentication methods in a step-by-step process.
  • Explore new groupings for users and content: Quality, comprehensive metadata is paramount for the development of new personalization methods, but creative ways of grouping that metadata can be just as important. Opportunity exists to identify user types and genres of content that fall outside conventional logic, but nonetheless, add important depth to recommendation engines.
  • Make authentication as irrelevant to the consumer as possible: No consumer subscribes to a particular service because of a lengthy authentication process. The future of authentication belongs to the company that can best secure their service, while still providing a relatively frictionless level of authentication for consumers. Creating invisible methods of authentication will be paramount to the adoption of new technology.  


This is an excerpt from Parks Associates research library. We welcome any comments. Thank you for your support and interest in our work.

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