By now, even if you haven't actually seen Black Mirror: Bandersnatch for yourself you likely know one of the most interesting things about the latest offering in the Black Mirror franchise on Netflix. The film is an interactive "Choose Your Own Adventure" experience in which viewers guide the story's path through a series of options presented along the way. The result is a film with countless possible combinations, multiple endings, and seemingly endless Easter Eggs.
But what if all the choices weren't just to help move Bandersnatch's narrative along, but for something more -- namely giving Netflix access for to a lot of very specific data the streaming giant can then use to their business advantage? According to The Verge, it's a real situation, one that Netflix could potentially use for their own "internal programmatic marketing infrastructure."
The idea of Netflix compiling data isn't exactly a new one. Data -- its collection and usage -- has long been a huge part of how Netflix works, something that users can see in action anytime they log in. Netflix keeps track of what its users view, search for and more and uses their algorithm to make suggestions for other programming they might like.
However, with Bandersnatch, there's additional information that Netflix can collect. In Bandersnatch, the very first choice viewers are given is what cereal Stefan (Fionn Whitehead) should eat: Sugar Puffs or Frosted Flakes? The question doesn't appear to have a major impact on the story's trajectory, but from a data standpoint it could be very valuable. The two cereals are from different companies -- Kellogg’s and General Mills. One could argue that a viewer's choice of cereal may be based on their own preference, information that would be very valuable to brands and thus, potentially marketable by Netflix as they could in turn sell the information to companies for their own gain.
It's worth noting that Netflix has already created their own propriety technology, the Branch Manager software, for creating even more interactive stories. Adding data tracking doesn't seem that much of a stretch.
While the idea of Netflix eventually using interactive content to mine user data is a bit chilling, it's also oddly fitting at least in terms of the world of Black Mirror. The series is generally built on the concept of how technology shapes and interacts with society -- frequently with horrific, nightmarish extrapolations.
What do you think? Is Black Mirror: Bandersnatch quietly a data mining tool for Netflix? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is now streaming on Netflix.