How Netflix Chooses its Preview Images is a Masterclass in Suggestion (and Data Analysis)

By Gary Cutlack on at

Streaming giant Netflix has been experimenting on its users, or at least monitoring what they click on, using this datamine to try to work out what sort of stuff people might want to watch based on preview icons alone.

It's all about the picture, not the words, as Netflix explained: "Through various studies, we found that our members look at the artwork first and then decide whether to look at additional details.  Knowing that, we asked ourselves if we could improve the click-through rate for that first glance?"

To which end it built several versions of icon artwork for some of its streaming titles, then A/B tested these to see which ones worked best. The streamer's technical team explained: "...we set out to develop a data driven framework through which we can find the best artwork for each video, both in the context of the Netflix experience and with the goal of increasing overall engagement -- not just move engagement from one title to another."

Here's the end result:

So that's why film posters all look the same these days. And it literally, actually worked too, with Netflix saying: "The results from this test were unambiguous -- we significantly raised view share of the titles testing multiple variants of the artwork and we were also able to raise aggregate streaming hours. It proved that we weren't simply shifting hours. Showing members more relevant artwork drove them to watch more of something they have not discovered earlier." [Netflix via Techradar]

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