Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The RSS of War

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Bestow rewards without regard to rule, issue orders without regard to previous arrangements; and you will be able to handle a whole army as though you had to
do with but a single man. -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu embraced the concept of intermittent reinforcement. It's a theory that has a lot of relevance in the broadband media world.

For an explanation of the concept, we go from the guru of war to the zen master of luv. Here's Dave of, who I'm guessing is single, and probably will be for a long time.

My secret is to give women "intermittent reinforcement." This actually is a psychological phenomenon commonly documented in experiments involving rats.

The goal of the experiment is to have the rat press a lever as many times as possible. The rat is given a pellet of food after it presses a lever. If the rat gets a pellet every time, it soon gets satiated and stops pressing the lever.

If, on the other hand, the rat does not receive a pellet every time the lever is pressed, but receives a pellet intermittently, the rat will increase the frequency with which it presses the lever.

The analogy is fairly obvious: how do we get women to "press our lever" as many times as possible?

For the sake of "the ladies" lets hope that Dave never wraps his head around relativity.

But our zen master Dave buys into intermittent reinforcement, and I do too. When I'm at my desk, I constantly check my email. I push that "Get Mail" button over and over, because I never know when that action will deliver the reward of a good email. The same can be said for those addicted to their Crackberries, im abusers, etc.

My point is (yes, I really have one) that the potential of rss syndication isn't only in it's on-demand qualities, but also it's intermittent reinforcement.

Imagine the first really high end broadband show, lots of star power -exclusively online, "Lost" like buzz and fan loyalty. It's hard to imagine right now, right? Even ad supported, it's just too expensive.

Now imagine if it was distributed intermittently, so fans never knew when to expect another episode, another piece to the puzzle if it's a mystery like Lost. Fans would be scouring the website every day, soaking up advertising. RSS subscribers would read everything you sent down the pipeline in hopes that they'd be rewarded with more show content.

The concept is scalable to small niche audiences too. What's required, though, is a show that fans really want. This is not so much a strategy for creating a successful show as it is a way to sustain popularity in the broadband market and broaden the potential for ad revenue.

Those rats really wanted those pellets, or else they wouldn't have bothered to pull Dave's lever.

PHOTO: Sitting on 47th Ave. 3/26/06


Blogger Amanda said...

I like the way that brain works.

Very smart. I do the same thing with my e-mail. Also with websites, like this one.

6:28 PM  

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