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What and chill? The content-streaming consumer journey.

2020 required a lot of behavioral changes on many fronts. Some changes were required while other changes were adaptive, like how consumers are streaming content now more than ever. There are also more compelling choices now for streaming services, and exclusive content on each of these competing services.

How consumers search for content and where to watch it

Finding content to watch and where to watch it is challenging for some. With varying user experiences for searching for content in each platform, it can be a task for consumers to find what they want to watch right now. They are turning to text search to find content and learn where that content can be viewed; consumers on Bing are searching using queries related to content and streaming services in the same search path.

We examined search paths for streaming services and found a strong symbiotic connection between queries related to content and queries related to streaming services. 15% of the queries overall were related to content, while 1 in 3 queries were related to content specifically on mobile devices. Personal computer (PC) and mobile search behaviors are different; however, users are looking for the movie or show and ending up with their last click in their path on a streaming services query in both environments. When users start their search paths with a query related to content, 70% of the paths ended with a click to a streaming service.

Technology advancement and increased supply of services are providing a unique opportunity

The opportunity continues to grow thanks to increased demand and increased competition to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Disney+, Peacock, Apple TV+, and others made their debut in the last year, but rather than taking subscribers away from other services, it seems like there was growth for all services mentioned above in 2020. The convergence of 5G technologies along with artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) will open new opportunities and continue to drive demand for data and streaming entertainment. Investment in searches related to content is integral to many strategies as consumers universally search for both: Content searches lead to streaming searches and streaming searches are broadly connected to other queries for streaming services. We have analyzed the connections of queries in paths and discovered communities of queries that show cross-shopping intent for streaming services, and behaviors of content discovery.

Change is not coming; it’s here now. Media conglomerates are planning their streaming movie releases and theatrical releases alongside each other. We are now seeing large blockbuster movies being released in theaters and available for streaming on the same day. An entertainment boon is on the horizon and advertisers can take advantage of the volume and insights into audiences on our network through their Microsoft search campaigns and Microsoft Audience Network native campaigns.

If you love insights, we have a lot more coming in 2021. Sign up for the biweekly Microsoft Advertising Insider newsletter to get the release of our upcoming 2021 consumer insights report in two weeks and keep up to speed with other vertical and seasonal analyses, tips and tricks, thought leadership, and product updates.