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Disney Is Taking Control of Its Digital Destiny—And So Should You

Layer Helps Companies Own, not Rent, Digital Experiences

As “digital transformation” has emerged as a favorite buzzword in recent years, business leaders have grown fond of this idea that every company is a technology company. But if you think about individual brands, this starts to feel like an odd statement.

Companies like Staples and Best Buy use technology to their advantage (and sell tech products), but they’re in the retail industry. Web Summit is the world’s largest technology marketplace, but it makes money from its events business. And Disney certainly takes advantage of technology to drive a content-oriented media business. Right?

The recent news that Disney is pulling all its content out of Netflix by 2019 and building its own streaming service makes one thing clear. Even if you don’t feel like a technology company, you should become one.

By focusing on developing an owned tech platform, the Disney brand is taking control of its digital destiny—and you should be ready to do the same.

The Difference Between Renting and Owning Digital Land

In the context of Netflix and Disney, think of the split as Disney’s decision to start owning its digital experience rather than renting it. In this scenario, Netflix is the digital landlord and Disney is the tenant.

Just like in the housing market, there are advantages and disadvantages for both renting and owning. Rather than taking on the responsibility of digital distribution of its content, Disney turned to Netflix in a 2012 deal (that took effect in 2016) to deliver movies and television shows over the top of an established platform. However, this gave Netflix ownership of viewer data and limited Disney’s deep catalog of content.

The decision to develop an owned streaming platform has a lot to do with profitability. But, as opposed to renting digital land, focusing on technology internally gives Disney:

It’s easy for business leaders to feel that the Disney/Netflix split doesn’t apply to themselves. After all, not every business operates on the massive scale that Disney does. However, there’s plenty to learn from this story—it’s time for brands (regardless of size) to stop relying on rented digital land.

How Can You Own Your Digital Experience?

The key to Disney’s decision to forge ahead on its own streaming platform is a major investment in BAMTech, the company responsible for MLB’s digital streaming site. With a 75% controlling stake in the company, Disney now has the team necessary to build its owned experience.

But did you know that Disney technically already has a streaming platform, free of any digital landlords? In 2015, Disney launched a beta app called DisneyLife in the United Kingdom. For two years, Disney has enjoyed all the benefits we’ve discussed so far and built a large base of paid subscribers. With BAMTech at its disposal, Disney can now build on that success.

What about the brands that don’t have nearly $2 billion to invest in a successful tech company and two years to beta test an owned experience? The vast majority of companies need a more accessible way to start owning digital customer experiences.

Not every company thinking like a technology company has to actually sell technology. Instead, you can take on the tech company mindset by making your owned digital experience a tech asset. This means having a valuable platform in place that can aggregate customer conversations and drive the business forward.

The Layer customer conversation platform is specifically designed to give brands all the benefits of owned digital experiences with the feeling of rented land. You don’t have to spend months or years developing and designing the platform—you can build on top of a backend messaging infrastructure that will help you make the most of conversations with customers.

If you want to learn more about how Layer helps brands go the Disney route of controlling the digital destiny, contact us today for a free demo of the platform.