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  • Deepanshu

Gone in 1.8 Seconds. A Netflix Personalization Story.

For those living under a rock, Netflix is a video-on-demand streaming service that hosts a wide range of TV Shows, Movies, Documentaries, etc. The secret to Netflix’s massive success is its ability to personalize. Netflix doesn’t cater to the public; it caters to YOU.

"For many years, the main goal of the Netflix personalized recommendation system has been to get the right titles in front of each of our members at the right time..." - Netflix Team

A research conducted by the company in early 2014 found that a user on average spends just 1.8 seconds considering a title. In essence, Netflix has 1.8 seconds to persuade a user to click on a title or risk the user bouncing off to a competing OTT service such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Disney+.

When margins are this narrow, highly sophisticated personalization is a great asset.

Thus, it would be highly beneficial for the company to personalize the first interaction a user has with a title: the artwork.

The same 2014 study also found that "artwork is “not only the biggest influencer” for a user’s decision about what to watch, it also constituted over 82 percent of their focus while browsing Netflix."

Wouldn’t it be better, from the company’s point of view, if it showed you the artwork that is most relevant to you?

A Netflix Screen without any personalization/artworks would look something like this:

Personalization would turn it into something like this:

Let's see how Netflix does this with the help of two examples.

Example 1: Good Will Hunting

User 1, who has watched many Romantic movies, may be shown an artwork containing Matt Damon and Minnie Driver. In contrast, User 2, a Comedy fan, might be offered an artwork with Robin Williams, a legend in comedy.

Example 2: Pulp Fiction

User 1, who has watched many movies of Uma Thurman, is likely to respond positively to an artwork containing Uma. In contrast, User 2, a fan of John Travolta, is expected to prefer an artwork containing John.

Netflix achieves this through a technique knows as Aesthetic Visual Analysis or AVA. Its algorithms sort through millions of images, and based on some defined parameters, produce the one perfect shot.

Netflix is constantly experimenting with new features such as video promos, auto-playing next episodes and/or trailers, skip intro features, etc. Experimenting with artworks is also a part of this. And to always stay ahead of the curve, it is doubtful that Netflix will stop.



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