In the latest Black Mirror Netflix Original, Joan is Awful, we are shown an AI nightmare where people’s lives are turned into content, with or without their permission. 

“It’s designed to keep the viewer in a state of mesmerized horror,” says the mythical Streamberry CEO, “it’s great for engagement.”

This burnished technology vision of Black Mirror is common within the digital consultancy community. Innovation leader Tom Goodwin recently unleashed a Pulitzer-grade post about how the multiverse is leveraged by ‘AI experts’ as a pain point for corporations to plough all their R&D budget into Web 3.0 initiatives.

As Mr Goodwin says, “The advice is utterly terrible, it’s exceptionally stupid and nonsensical.”

The spooky-perfect multiverse depicted here and in Black Mirror is light years away from the current digital audience ‘fictive level’.

The more pervasive, prevalent application of artificial intelligence is best summed up by the proliferation of digital content farms, where websites are produced only to drive clicks, with zero concern for retaining audiences let alone delighting them.

The content intention is simple: suck eyeballs into inauthentic content, for a maximum one session, just enough to fuel dodgy advertising revenue.

It’s not just machine content farmers who cultivate the inauthentic digital landscape. Take the current experience of Gen X audiences (the old-ish ones, currently with the money) who have abandoned news websites due to excessive use of pop-ups and video interruptions.

According to the recent Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, serious news consumers are abandoning news websites in great numbers, fatigued by aggressive (and dumb) advertising, subscription requests, paywall hubs, personal data heists, all of which prevent the mature news junky from a deeper reading experience.

Gen X audiences are flocking to longer term app subscriptions in much the same way as Boomers (old-ish ones, currently with the money) still get newspapers delivered in case their iPads run out of charge.

The fragmented and febrile atmosphere of social media is prompting swathes of 34 years+ audiences to migrate to closed networks like Signal, Whatsapp and Telegram to participate in safe-space debates without the threat of a dissenting Twitter pile-on for a mis-phrased tweet.

Newer, more visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok are optimised better for younger users, who, for some reason, are still perceived as rare and elusive audience unicorns in terms of their interests, engagement and behaviour.

Significant investment is incurred from media owners and brands to connect with Gen Zs, often with little return on investment or quantifiable traffic included in the deal.

Further innovation is soon on the way, fuelled by artificial intelligence and automation, so media owners and brands need to sharpen their game over these new disruptors and intermediaries to deliver engagement that tangibly contributes to the bottom line.

In the longer term, according to the Reuters Institute, today’s younger audiences will demand simpler, shorter, informal, entertaining formats, often associated with the influencers du jour and consumed within platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and the ones that haven’t been invented yet.

Mediacells has developed and delivered Audience Engineering® to open a more transparent dialogue between brands, rights holders and their desired or retained audiences.

Our bespoke data management solution can clear the communication channels by delivering the following value to brands who are serious about creating audience delight.

  • Reduce excessive use of pop-ups + video interrupts
  • Reduce ads, subscription requests, personal data requests
  • Increase loyalty + longevity of app/ service subscribers
  • Engage with disaffected social media users who migrate to closed networks
  • Connect with younger audiences on Instagram, TikTok et al
  • Drive quantifiable engagement that contributes to the bottom line
  • Manipulate “AI’ not vice-versa
  • Serve younger audience appetites e.g. influence-led entertaining content
  • Ascertain value of existing inventory
  • Benchmark competitive + alternative value propositions

The aim is to connect consumers closer to the content they love instead of being flipped by malgorithms designed to keep the viewer in ‘a state of mesmerized horror’, the opposite of audience delight.