Invisible Personalization: How Netflix Customizes Artwork Based on Viewing History

Arani Chaudhuri
Founder, and CEO at Iarani Inc.

28th December, 2018

In 2018, Netflix plans to spend up to $8 billion on content, up from $6 billion it spent last year. The company stated that 25% of this spending will now be dedicated to original programming – content that is produced based on customer preferences.

In 2018, Netflix plans to spend up to $8 billion on content, up from $6 billion it spent last year. The company stated that 25% of this spending will now be dedicated to original programming – content that is produced based on customer preferences. We are all aware of how each person’s recommendations on Netflix are determined by their viewing history through habit tracking algorithms.

But their personalization goes even further than that. According to a blog post by Netflix, the company even personalizes the artwork you see for the movies and shows you are recommended based on your viewing and clicking history. This means that different people see different artworks for movies and shows. Below are nine different options they have shown for Stanger Things.

   

[Image Source: Netflix]

On the same blog, they go on to explain how all this works. They explain that someone who watches a lot of romantic movies will probably be shown artwork with the two characters in love, whereas, someone who watches more comedy might be shown comedians or funny characters on the artwork.

In another example, they showed us the process behind personalizing the image to depict the movie Good Will Hunting. The decisions are based on how much the user prefers different genres and themes. As explained earlier, someone who watches more romantic movies may be interested in the movie if they are shown Matt Damon and Minnie Driver, whereas, a user who watches more comedies might be more drawn to artwork containing Robin Williams, a well-known comedian. The image below shows how this process works. On the left are three titles that the user watched in the past. And to the right is the artwork recommended for them.

[Image Source: Netflix]

It is a fascinating method that makes so much sense when explained to us since the covers do seem to change frequently. This is also a perfect example of the kind of invisible personalization that more businesses should strive towards. All the operations are done behind the scenes and are always evolving with the customers over time. This kind of technology simply learns how the customers operate and provide micro-personalized content.

To read a more detailed explanation of this process and the algorithms used by Netflix, read their blog post on Artwork Personalization at Netflix on their tech blog.

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