The Filter launches new OTT search tool

Recognising that search is playing an increasingly important role in content discovery, The Filter has this month launched a new advanced search tool to support our clients in VoD and OTT. The tool supports a huge step forward in the user experience of searching for content on streaming services.

The Filter’s Advanced Search Technology, called ‘FAST’ because of the importance of getting viewers quickly to the right content, was developed first for our US clients and is now being rolled out to clients in Europe. FAST supports content discovery without requiring users to know exactly what they’re looking for. It supports genre and sub-genre searching, so subscribers can now see a full range of comedy, for example, or thrillers. In sport it supports searching by team and even by player, as well as surfacing items in a catalogue that might otherwise remain hidden – sports documentaries, minority sports, compilation shows for example. FAST also enables ‘fuzzy search’ – allowing users to find what they want even when they spell it incorrectly or type in an unspecific term. The Filter has found that these attributes, present in most general purpose search engines, have been missing from OTTs’ search functions for too long.

One of the more advanced elements of FAST is supporting personalised search. This draws on a user’s viewing history, to put the result most likely to reflect their preferences first in a list of all possible catalogue items that meet that search request. So the fan of romantic comedy searching just for ‘comedy’ will get RomCom results presented first, whereas a sitcoms fan searching for comedy would see something relevant to them surfaced first. And the dynamic search component of FAST allows the user to see options as they type each keystroke into the search box.

We’ve found search ‘grouping’ or faceting to be a feature that’s valued by our clients. Searching for ‘Toy Story’ not only returns the whole of the Toy Story franchise, but also in a separate group, associated content such as other Tom Hanks films, in another group related series, bonus material and even other animated films from Toy Story Director John Lasseter. Having implemented FAST, one of our clients has seen search go up from driving less than 1% of all plays to driving 24% of all plays.

The Filter is working with some clients where limited metadata compromises the user experience in search. In such cases, we have a number of proven approaches to enrich and develop metadata, enabling not only FAST but other machine learning and personalisation to be more effective.

Damien Read, Chief Commercial Officer of The Filter, said: “For too long OTT users have had to know the exact title to find what they want. Now, with FAST, The Filter is enabling our clients across the world to get users swiftly to the content they’re looking for. This improves the user experience, surfaces the full width of the catalogue and thereby reduces churn. With FAST, our clients can now take account of the mood, mode and context of a user search to point people to the right content in their catalogues.

About The Filter
Founded in 2004, The Filter has pioneered many of the machine learning techniques now proving essential for OTT and on-demand businesses worldwide. The Filter not only offers on-screen, data science-led personalisation but also works with clients across many business needs including: personalised marketing; churn reduction intervention; and optimising how editorial teams can leverage the power of data science.

To discuss search on TV please contact damien.read@thefilter.com or telephone +44 (0)1225 588001.