Business Challenge

To inspire long-term audience loyalty, STV aims to engage viewers and Scottish Children’s Lottery players with personalized, relevant content. How could it deepen insight into their unique preferences?


STV Group uses IBM® Watson® Campaign Automation to build fine-grained segments based on a 360-degree view of audience members, and shares tailored content via email, SMS and mobile push notifications.


Up to 81% increase

in email open rates achieved thanks to tailored, compelling content

Up to 55% uplift

in streaming with targeted push notifications via the STV mobile app

Boosts subscribers

for second weekly lottery draw with help from SMS campaigns

Business Challenge Story

Building one-on-one relationships with millions of viewers

Picture the scene: you’ve just finished a great TV series and you’re on the hunt for something new. With so much content on offer, how do you decide what to watch next?

STV, Scotland’s leading digital media brand, knows viewers have more options than ever when it comes to the shows they watch and the platforms on which they consume them. To nurture the long-term loyalty of its audience, the company realized it needed to build closer relationships with viewers across the country.

Robert Dawson Scott, Head of Customer Engagement at ‎STV Group, explains: “Since the deregulation of British broadcasting in the 1990s, Scotland, like the rest of the UK, has seen an explosion of new channels—and the booming popularity of streaming and social media platforms has further intensified competition for our viewers’ attention.

“We knew that reaching out to our audience with tailored, compelling content would create opportunities to spark their interest and drive engagement with our brands. However, with four million people tuning in each month, identifying individual preferences was a tough challenge.”

David Handling, Email Marketing Executive at STV Group, continues: “Like many leading media companies, we collect sophisticated data around viewing habits and demographics. In the past, we did not have the tools to take advantage of digital marketing channels, which meant it was complex and time-consuming to extract actionable insights from our data and reach out to our audience on a one-to-one basis. To achieve our engagement goals, we looked for a way to build, test, run and analyze the results of tailored digital campaigns at speed and scale.”

IBM Watson Campaign Automation helps us to reach out to our audience with relevant, compelling content that inspires them to engage with our brands.

Robert Dawson Scott, Head of Customer Engagement, STV Group plc

Transformation Story

Embracing an analytics-driven engagement platform

To enhance its approach to digital engagement, STV selected IBM Watson Campaign Automation—an analytics-driven platform that enables marketers to harness behavioral data to create campaigns across email, SMS, mobile apps and more.

“Today, people are bombarded with marketing messages,” says Dawson Scott. “To stand out from the crowd, we aim to ensure that our communications are compelling, consistent and—crucially—relevant. One of the things that set the IBM solution apart from offerings from other vendors we considered is the ease with which non-technical users can build campaigns without sacrificing sophisticated segmentation and granular data analysis capabilities.

“For example, we can empower our news desk to create our daily Morning Briefing emails directly in IBM Watson Campaign Automation. By democratizing content creation across the organization, we cut our time to market for campaigns and help ensure timely, high-quality content.”

Working together with a team from IBM, STV deployed IBM Watson Campaign Automation and began a series of phased migrations to transfer its email campaigns to the new platform.

“When we were evaluating potential integration partners, one of our key criteria was an expert team to support us through the migration and configuration process—and IBM delivered exactly what we needed,” recalls Dawson Scott. “From the outset, it was clear that we were talking to a team of knowledgeable, confident and flexible professionals, able to adapt their approach to help us achieve our goals.”

Handling adds: “Our IT and development teams worked closely together with IBM to design the data models necessary to support a comprehensive range of analytics use cases. The configuration process was complex at times, but the IBM team provided the resources we needed to complete our transition to IBM Watson Campaign Automation seamlessly and with no interruption to our communications.”

He continues: “We found the IBM team’s advice on IP warming particularly valuable. To help ensure high levels of message delivery through our new IP addresses, the team worked with us to design a custom-made email competition to test our customer segments, measure delivery and unsubscribe rates, and determine the health of each of our IP addresses.”

In parallel with STV’s digital engagement initiative for its two television channels and the STV Player, the IBM team also collaborated with one of the company’s newest brands: the Scottish Children's Lottery.

Jamie Canning, Digital Marketing Coordinator at the Scottish Children's Lottery, explains: “The Scottish Children’s Lottery is a wholly owned subsidiary of STV Group, and raises funds for young people across Scotland.

“As we prepared to launch the lottery, we wanted to harness the capabilities of IBM Watson Campaign Automation to deliver a sophisticated, 360-degree view of our lottery subscribers. The aim was to reach out to players with account-related information—for example, to inform people that they had won—as well as drive campaigns to attract new participants. Working side-by-side with IBM, we successfully designed, built and tested the automated digital campaigns we needed to support our first lottery draw.”

Results Story

Delivering personalized outreach at speed and scale

Today, STV uses IBM Watson Campaign Automation to share around 40 million targeted messages a year with viewers and lottery players across Scotland—helping it to deliver relevant, compelling content to drive engagement with its brands.

“When we’re planning our marketing activities in the run-up to the launch of a new show, our IBM solution gives us the flexibility to identify and target the best audiences extremely quickly,” says Dawson Scott. “In the past we simply didn't have the capacity to build a campaign with any degree of meaningful accuracy or targeting—but today, that's all changed. We can now bring a new email campaign to market in matter of days or even hours if the situation demands it.”

He continues: “As part of our far-reaching engagement initiative, we redesigned the look and feel of our emails. Combined with the improved targeting capabilities we gained from our IBM solution, the impact we’re seeing is extremely positive.

“For example, we recently designed a campaign to promote a new drama. And simply by creating a ‘lookalike’ audience segment based on people who had watched similar shows in the last 12 months or had liked pages for similar shows on social media, we boosted open rates by 30 percent.

“Another advantage is that we are able to share targeted Push reminders with people who have downloaded our app to their iOS device, which increased the number of people streaming one of our shows by 55 percent.”

STV sees that relevant content has a big impact on audience engagement, both for its TV and Children’s Lottery brands.

“We’ve lifted open rates for our morning briefing emails by 50 percent, and click-through rates by 81 percent,” Handling comments. “Being able to give our news desk a bigger role in creating that content has played a key role in that success.”

Canning adds: “We’ve experienced similarly excellent results with digital marketing initiatives for the Scottish Children’s Lottery, the most recent of which is an onboarding campaign to encourage our existing direct debit subscribers to participate in a second weekly draw.

“By sharing SMS messages containing a link to claim a discount online, we can measure the number of recipients who opened the page and went on to redeem the offer. Over the last six months, we’ve seen click-through rates of 10 percent—contributing to a significant number of new subscribers for our second draw, and helping us raise more money for the charitable causes the Children’s Lottery supports. The performance of IBM Watson Campaign Automation has been excellent.”

With an analytics-driven approach at the heart of its customer engagement strategy, STV Group is strengthening its position in an increasingly competitive space.

“As digital media consumption continues to evolve, building one-to-one relationships with our audience is more important than ever to nurture their loyalty,” concludes Dawson Scott. “IBM Watson Campaign Automation helps us to reach out to our audience with relevant, compelling content that inspires them to engage with our brands.”

STV logo


STV is Scotland’s leading digital media brand and holds the Channel 3 Public Service Broadcasting license for Central and Northern Scotland. It provides millions of consumers with quality content on air, online and on demand. A wholly owned subsidiary of STV Group, the Scottish Children’s Lottery raises funds for, and improve the lives of, young people right across Scotland.

Solution Components

  • IBM Watson Campaign Automation
  • M&E: Connected customer
  • M&E: Customer Sales and Service Transformation

Take the Next Step

To learn more about IBM Watson Campaign Automation, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: