94 minutes of doom

The other day I got around to watching the much talked about documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix.

And let me just say it straight up: Despite the dystopia and concern about our technological ‘progress’ it exudes, I highly recommend that you take the time to not only watch it but also to really absorb and comtemplate the message – and take appropriate action.

I think most of who have been in tech for a long period of time have and have had our misgivings about social media, and what it’s doing to society. “The Social Dilemma” paints a grim picture, but there aren’t any really big surprises, if you have just followed along a bit.

In two instances it gets downright creepy in IMHO:

First of all, there is the mentioning of what this does to kids. I am personally terrified of the day my now 8 year old daughter gets her hands on a mobile device and starts being on social media.

It’s a personal ‘Dooms Day device’ in the hands of kids, and we need to be very thoughtful that we have only a couple of years – tops – to teach her how to have such a device without being hurt by it. It’s a gruelling task. Downright frightening, in fact.

Second, I am fascinated by all the brilliant people who participate in the documentary and how they contributed to where we are today. It’s one thing to feel remorseful and wishing you could have done something differently. It’s entirely different when you try to explain how your intentions were completely different – this was just something ‘that happened’.

Pardon me, but…bull…shit.

Every single one of these people have the brains and the skills to think more than one step ahead in terms of what they’re doing, building and letting loose. They had all the opportunities to stop and think.

They chose not to. Why? Because honestly they couldn’t care less back then. It was simply not how they were wired; to think deeply about the consequences of their work.

The problem is typical: We’re so fixated on building stuff that we don’t think about anything else.

And this is where – potentially – we end up. And in this particular case have ended up.

Of course you could argue that it is a bit over the top to come after these people who are now expressing regret. But honestly: Since it’s the same people who are supposed to spearhead the drive to fix things, would you bet your money that they are going to succeed?

I wouldn’t.

With that there is only one good option left:

Get your head out of your screens. And teach your kids what real life is really like. And that it’s always better than anything an algorithm can throw at you.

(Photo: Screenshot)

The real magic of Disney+

Disney+ launched in Denmark yesterday. By 6.45 AM I had it installed on 2 devices and our Apple TV at home. That’s how much I have been looking forward to the launch. And yes, I saw the first two episodes of “The Mandalorian”.

But aside from being a cool service in itself with an abundance of great content, Disney+ is also a big picture strategic masterstroke and a model to get inspired by for a lot of other companies.

Yes, they are late to the streaming game. But you could also say that they have had amble time to observe and learn from the competition and thus avoid the worst of the ‘early days’ diseases the firstmovers usually encounter.

On top of that the direct comparisons with Netflix, HBO and all the others are slightly flawed. Disney+ is so much more; it’s a direct avenue to increased merchandise sales and visits to their theme parks (where available and not taking into account the current Covid-19 restrictions, which – honestly – no one could have planned for).

The goal of Disney+ overall is not to win the streaming wars as I see it. It’s more of a clever way of driving awareness of and interest in the content universes themselves thus sparking increased demand for all the products sitting on shelves in retail stores, where Disney really makes their margins.

The price of 59 DKK per month – a little more than half of Netflix or HBO – supports this.

This is what Disney+ has that’s unique. Netflix doesn’t have that play, HBO doesn’t either and none of the other streaming players have it. Disney does. And it’s every bit as much a part of their core business model as the quality of their content is.

Having waited the streaming phenomenon out until there were some well established models that others have worked the kinks out of and THEN launch with the long tail of related products that no other player can match is a simple, beautiful strategic masterstroke you can only bow to.

It’s almost magic.

(Photo: Screenshot)

Willingness to pay…for what?

A new study from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University has found that there seems to be a co-relation between users with media subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify and the willingness to pay for online news.

Naturally, legacy media executives are already starting to misinterpret the findings to fit into their own worldview.

A willingness to pay is not a blanket willingness to pay. Willingness to pay is directly associated with value.

And there is just a huge difference between paying a subscription for an evergreen back catalogue of music or movies and then paying for clickbait that rots in less than 30 seconds after publishing.

On the other hand with an established willingness to pay, there is room to ask oneself in the news industry:

“Ok, how can we take a page out of the playbook from Netflix, Spotify and/or others and apply that in our context?”

What you will get from such an exercise is an imminent need to rethink the product to make it more based on perceived customer value.

And – importantly – stop trying to force the public to pay for you being able to maintain a model that is if not completely dead then terminal.

That takes a huge mind shift internally in the media organizations. A mind shift they have so far proven unwilling and thus unable to make.

It has nothing – nothing – to do with willingness to pay.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The Nirvana of Netflix

The new policy of Netflix to automatically cancel accounts that have been inactive for a long period of time is worth applauding.

Everybody in the subscriptions business knows that what you really want is for customers to get into a subscription and then – hopefully – forget about the ongoing billing relationship, until the credit card expires.

But that’s the wrong way to think about it.

The right way to think about it is to put customers first in everything that you do, deliver a stellar experience that really goes above and beyond what customers are expecting leading to more and more usage.

When you do that you will know that you have done whatever it takes to deliver value to your customers and keep them happy. You can do nothing more.

When some customers are then still not using your service, you will know that it’s not because of you but because of something in their lives.

If you get to that moment the last great thing you can do for them is to send them out with a big hug and a kiss and just offer to cancel their account. No questions asked.

It is the last step to customer loyalty heaven. But – and this is important – it takes a killer product with superior service to get to that position.

Netflix has that.

What an example!

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Infinity beats speed

Is there ever such a thing as too much of a good thing? I came to think about it after following a discussion on Twitter about how news media may have been a contributor to their own digital demise by doing too much – or rather: publishing too much – rather than too little.

The argument against publishing, publishing and publishing more is that by betting on speed and volume, quality goes down. The finished product becomes thinner, offers less value to readers, which again drives down engagement, advertising revenue and – crucially – the likeliness of subscribing for a fee.

On the other hand, media execs may argue that there are great examples of great businesses being successful based on an abundance of content. Netflix is perhaps the best example, where precisely the vastness of the catalogue is a big reason to describe.

Here it is just worth noting that while shows on Netflix predominantly age well and stay relevant, the same cannot be said about news media. So when we compare the two, we’re comparing the value of infinity with the value of sheer speed. And here infinity always wins.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)