Netflix is a prime example of how any online marketeer should start thinking. They continuously imporve their product to make it more personalised, thus offering each individual a better performance. One thing which caught my eye in this article on Netflix’ personalisation is their complete lack of focus on demographics.
Netflix used to place an emphasis on collecting these types of biographical details about its users, but it eventually decided the data wasn’t particularly useful. “It really doesn’t matter if you are a 60-year-old woman or a 20-year-old man because a 20-year-old man can watch Say Yes To The Dress and a 60-year-old woman could watch Hellboy,” Todd Yellin, VP of product innovation at Netflix, told Mashable in an interview this week.
Intention, behaviour and momentum are all much better indicators of customers’ behaviours and needs. Think about that when you’re still buying ads in the 25-35 age bracket.
A real online shift is happening. Business are more and more becoming platforms and shying away from the limiting pipe strategy. So what are these business models?
Pipes have been around us for as long as we’ve had industry. They’ve been the dominant model of business. Firms create stuff, push them out and sell them to customers. Value is produced upstream and consumed downstream. There is a linear flow, much like water flowing through a pipe.
Unlike pipes, platforms do not just create and push stuff out. They allow users to create and consume value. At the technology layer, external developers can extend platform functionality using APIs. At the business layer, users (producers) can create value on the platform for other users (consumers) to consume. This is a massive shift from any form of business we have ever known in our industrial hangover.
Definitions from Platformed.info, the complete guide to platforms
Traditional retailers such as Walmart are typically pipe models while Ebay is a perfect example of a platform. Oddly enough these retailers at the same time are moving in the direction of becoming a platform, with Amazon offering a program for third-party sellers as well as opening their fulfilment centers for these third parties. In the Benelux you can see a similar move with Bol.com opening their shops towards third-party sellers. It’s easy to understand why: opening up to third-party sellers offers a risk-free (no stock) earnings model and supports these companies’ mission of offering the largest product selection available. Expect much more platform thinking in the online world soon!