The Terror of Netflix

The Terror of Netflix

Or rather, the downside of Marketing Automation.

With more than three million customers in the Netherlands, I suspect that you too sometimes watch Netflix. While enjoying a rainy Sunday afternoon sunk into your couch, you are watching the latest series – which you basically have to see because said series is a trending topic at work. Is it really a guilty pleasure? Or are you tied to Netflix with velvet handcuffs?

The velvet handcuffs are a bitter reality because Netflix does everything in its power to hold on to you. In addition to developing an almost unrealistic number of good films and series, Netflix Marketing Automation works overtime. Left or right, you have to - and you will - continue to watch. And not only you, everyone in your household with their own profile.

Now, I am not against marketing automation. In fact, I "sell" it. I think that automation provides us with a service.

Marketing automation provides companies with:

  • Increased sales and average deal size
  • More effectiveness
  • Better processes
  • Communication via multiple channels
  • The chance to test
  • Up-sell and Cross-sell options

Marketing Automation simply provides convenience for consumers. We need to think less and remember less; we have less choice overload and are served according to our wishes. However, there is a limit. Marketing Automation must not terrorise us.

The Terror of Netflix in three simple facts:

Netflix sends a teaser by email twice a day.

I have always learned that sending too many emails is bad for business. It is counterproductive: the recipient feels less involved, subscribers sign out and it could harm the brand. Netflix doesn't care. Apparently, it works because you would be crazy to unsubscribe from their message flow. Even though every mail has an Unsubscribe button, you don’t want to -and can’t- miss a hit series. The result is that you are reminded twice daily that Netflix requires your attention in the evening.


Netflix is not the only one: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter compete for our attention as well. Mail is also no longer the only means. With the arrival of push notifications, the number of attention-grabbing messages has multiplied. All these push messages make it difficult to prioritise your personal focus. You are tempted to follow, to read, to like something non-stop, and to trust the opinion of someone else.

The fact that a limit has been reached can also be seen from the growing group of people bragging about disconnecting from social media. Whether it is about removing the mobile Twitter app, turning off Facebook push messages or deleting their accounts; people want to rid themselves of the commercial dopamine supply. For clarity’s sake: Dopamine is a substance that plays a part in the brain's reward system. It makes us feel satisfied and rewarded.

Netflix taps into The Fear 0f Missing Out (FOMO).

With texts such as, "Don't forget to finish Sex Education," and "You've finished The I-Land. Let's find something to watch next,“ Netflix makes it seem like you are missing something. The fear of missing something, The Fear 0f Missing Out, abbreviated as "FOMO", is real. FOMO can cause serious anxiety in young people. When young adults scroll through their Instagram feeds and see that others “have it better than me", it can affect their emotional state. They may feel as if their lives are not as exciting and that they are missing something.

The constant growth of Netflix Films and Series and the way in which Netflix approaches you as a user taps into this fear. Not being up-to-date on the latest movies and TV shows accounts for a considerable amount of stress. In an Irish study from 2018, 18% of respondents said that not watching the TV series that their friends or colleagues are enthusiastic about gives them FOMO. Game of Thrones was the cause of most FOMO among the respondents. 50% even say they are sorry they did not watch the series at the time it was broadcast.

Last but not Least: Netflix determines what we see.

Just like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Netflix also builds a profile around our behaviour. The resulting profile simply states who you are and what your preferences and interests are. During your next login, Netflix then omits whatever content does not fit your profile. This creates a filter bubble around us, where an algorithm tries to determine what we would like to see, based on information such as age, gender, time of viewing, day of the week, the actors and the genre, compared to thousands of other options.

The internet activist Eli Pariser coined the term Filter Bubble in his book of the same name. According to Pariser, users become less exposed to opposite views and are intellectually isolated in their own information bubble. According to Pariser, the bubble effect can have negative consequences for the exchange of views between citizens. I even dare to say that the bubble can have negative consequences for our (creative) development and judgment.

What’s in your filter bubble depends on who you are and it depends on what you do. But you don’t decide what gets in. And more importantly, you don’t actually see what gets edited out.

Our brains construct a model of the world based on interactions with our environment. If all our interactions are one-sided, then the model in our brain is biased. A bubble can make us believe that our worldview is being shared more widely than it actually is.


To demonstrate the effect of the filter bubble, the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant conducted an experiment in which four people with completely different views exchanged Facebook accounts for a week. A must-read.


Marketing Automation offers many benefits for Sales and Marketing Communication, but it can have far-reaching consequences if used incorrectly. As a B2B or B2C brand, it is important not to let marketing automation completely gain the upper hand. Instead, regard your buyer persona as a person with interests and a need for inspiration and surprise.

Read more: Crystal Knows maakt van Big Data Buyer Personas

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Hugo Kalf - Managing Director

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