Netflix Proves Marketers Need To Trust Data, Not Just Their Gut

Sometimes you just have to listen to the data, rather than presume your gut is leading you in the right direction. Proof comes today in two different pieces of research about what is personally a subject close my heart, and one which I think most of us are likely to dislike with a passion.

First off, there's a surprise from Netflix that audiences don't actually get hooked on a pilot. Given that that is how most shows are commissioned, on the basis of a strong pilot, it should serve as a warning that audiences are not as sucked in as executives would like to think by a clever piece of character development and a cliffhanger. Audiences will typically take three or four episodes until they clamour for "just another one" from the Netflix series menu. Perhaps unsurprisingly, "Breaking Bad" leads the field for Netflix with viewers getting hooked after two episodes, whereas the follow on series, "Better Call Saul" and others, such as "Orange is the New Black" and "Pretty Little Liars" average out at three or four episodes. At the other end of the spectrum, "How I Met Your Mother" and "Arrow" book took eight episodes before viewers committed to watching the rest of the series.

The takeaway? Shows are commissioned on a pilot but viewers don't commit until at least a couple or more shows in. So there's a clear disconnect there. There may also be a thumbs up to content owners with short series to make them longer. If you have an audience after a three- or four-part series, the chances are they are committed enough to the show to carry on watching a full 12-episode season.

The other surprise comes from BDRC Continental's research, which suggests car hire companies get the most out of social media of any sector within travel. Really? Is is just me surprised by that more than four in five of those surveyed said social media played a part in their brand choice? I have to be honest, it's a segment I detest because quotes are just rough guidelines to get you to sign up before you get slammed with a bunch of charges and extra insurance options you'd be a fool not to take,
but will seriously ramp up the cost. I would heartily back a challenger brand who goes out there with the message that their price includes everything and the form you've filled out online won't need to be filled out again at a desk causing a queue of twenty people frustratedly waiting to start their trip.

Anyway, the researchers claims car hire success come through not being dry but weaving a narrative for social media followers that doesn't just stick to cars and offers on rates (which can be taken with a pinch of salt), but focuses more on the romance of the road, favourite journeys, most exhilarating trips, top destinations and driving tips. 

So perhaps there's a link here. Creating engaging content that keep people tuned in, whether you're a Netflix show or a hire car company, relies on a long-term build up that gets people hooked and engaged. It's not all about the pilot or a single post, it's about developing story lines and creative content that stop people turning their attention elsewhere.

Data can surprise you sometimes but it can always teach marketers a lesson to double check their gut instinct and personal experiences against what the market is telling them.

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