Some time ago, I started talking with a podcasting network about adding my retro podcast to their lineup. It was not high on my priority list, but I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.
The discussions was short and confirmed something that had been rolling around in my mind for a while. Companies and people create inconvenient systems in order to monetize them by removing levels of inconvenience.
You see this all the time in online advertising. It gets so out of control that eventually you might be willing to pay money to remove ads.
With this podcast network, they were concerned that I had not been running ads on older shows. I assumed this was because they thought it was not something they could monetize.
Instead they explained that since the old shows had no advertising, they would not be as useful as a back catalog available through their premium service. This meant that I would need to edit in commercial into all of my existing old episodes, which was over 170 at that point. So not a small body of work.
People love getting stuff for free, but as we see time and again. Convenience is something they are willing to pay for. Be it streaming music or cutting in front of line at the airport, people will open their wallets and see value in these offerings.
This opens the door to an economy of inconvenience. You add enough ads to your podcast or make your seats just a little uncomfortable and people will pay. Suddenly you have a financial model that exceeds what you could do with advertising or subscriptions based on quality.
Ultimately I decided to not add my podcast to any network. Not only was I not convinced that my show belonged in such rarefied company, I was also not comfortable with the model itself.
Sadly, everywhere I look I am seeing examples of the growing economy of inconvenience. From pay to win video games to line-cutting services on pizza orders, things are getting slightly less convenient if you don’t have the money.
What we see now? This is just the beginning.
We all have the power to help alter this business model. We do so by not participating. So think carefully before you pay into a “premium” service or add a few bucks to your order to get it a little faster. Because of the actions we take now, what we get in the future is going to be a lot more inconvenient, unless we are willing to pay.