02/10/2015 04:24 pm ET Updated Apr 11, 2015

From Uniform & Impersonal to Personalized and Targeted

In recent times many businesses have been forced to prioritize their commercial agenda above all else. One of the effects of this reductive focus on efficiency is the streamlining of consumer experiences and communications: the danger is that brand and marketing initiatives become less specific and therefore less relevant to the consumers they are aimed at, which runs counter to what will actually be effective.

Yet conversely...
In a world where consumers are being bombarded with a proliferation of messages via an ever-growing number of devices, it is actually personalization that is key form the consumer's perspective. The 'T-shaped attention span' that we observe in people nowadays is effectively a coping mechanism - a method to filter and personalize what people consume And the truth is that personalization is something brands can and should be helping their audiences with. With the explosion of Big Data, we now have the information that enables us to do this - but what is key is getting to the right bits of this information.

The real opportunity with Big Data is to focus on the value it can bring your consumers, rather than the value it will bring your business.

Making it personal
ESPN produces thousands of unique pieces of sports content a day, with everything from news to analysis to podcasts. However, much of this content is difficult to discover and consume. ESPN challenged itself to deliver this content to fans in a way that was immediate, popular and personally relevant.

They developed SportsCenter Feed, a personalized content app based on a user's interests such as favorite city, team and sport. The app pulls in the most relevant content from across the network, displaying it chronologically and facilitating immediate consumption and social sharing.

A single swipe allows users to move in real-time across all sports, with easy options to further narrow down the type of content e.g. live scores, news, analysis, video, and Twitter and Facebook posts. Personalized alerts can also be set up for particular teams and leagues.

Sports consumption is inherently personal, and ESPN has leveraged this to provide greater relevance for their user and a greater audience for their own content. In reducing barriers to entry and providing users with a genuinely personalized sports portal, ESPN has carved out a place for itself in a highly competitive publishing sphere.