How Netflix Tracks You
When you're surfing through Netflix on the bus, the train, work, or in the comfort of your couch at home, how do you pick what to watch? Is it a catchy title? Maybe an exciting synopsis, perhaps its the unwillingness to watch another episode of the office or just maybe, a particular cover art speaks to your spirit?but go onto your Netflix account- If they are still using your subscription. You may find their cover art there doesn't really interest you. What you see might be completely different. It's no accident Netflix's thumbnails are all tailor-made for you. At its heart, Netflix is all about creating personalized experiences or, instead, calculating them. They will draw you in with curated trailers of upcoming releases, point out of new episodes from previously watched videos, and even gauge your interest in content via match scores. While streaming services are notoriously tight-lipped about sharing their viewership data. Over the years, Netflix has shared glimpses into how their technology works.
According to internal studies, a typical viewer spends 1.8 seconds considering each title. Netflix believes it only has 90 seconds to get your attention before you move onto another activity. Among all the things that could catch your attention and make you watch a show or several, Netflix found that the most significant influence was the thumbnails. Humans are intensely visual creatures. Our eyes move through to four times a second to process new information. Because Netflix's goal is to get your attention and hold it, the company puts much work into choosing every thumbnail you will see. However, before they can decide what image will show up on your account, they have to sit through a ton of data. An Hour-long stranger things episode has almost 86,000 video frames.
To figure out which ones will make the best thumbnails, Netflix uses a pretty scientific selection process called aesthetic visual analysis, Or AVA. AVA is a set of tools and algorithms that search Netflix videos for the best Images and pull them out to create thumbnails. The process can be broken down into two necessary steps. The first is frame annotation. A program analyzes every static video frame of a video. Image recognition algorithms use information gleaned from each shot to create metadata. The metadata is like an electronic fingerprint identifying characteristics unique to each video frame. This helps build a database of information that makes it easier to pick out the best images for thumbnails later. To sort all of this. The company groups it into roughly three categories: visual- focusing on brightness, colour, contrast, and motion blur contextual, which documents face and object detection motion and shot angles. Compositional, which focuses on visual principles in cinematography, photography, and design, is called image ranking.
An algorithm uses the metadata to pick out specific shots that aren't blurry, have very imagery feature major characters in don't contain sensitive or an authorized branded content, then finally, a creative team steps in to use the best images to design the thumbnail artwork. But the process doesn't stop there Netflix still has to figure out which one works best for each user A.B. testing is executed again again and again your regularly see changes in your thumbnails based on your engagement with previous titles on the most basic level let's say you're a fan of comedy and you watch a bunch a standup specials when you search for Good Will hunting you may get a thumbnail with Robin Williams a famous comedian in one of the movies main character but people more into prominence titles could be showing the cover art with two leads kissing there are also regional differences from glancing at the shows thumbnail across different countries you can infer Germany is more into abstract images and U.S. viewers may prefer clearly defined characters and story plots doubt there are a considerable number of thumbnails to choose from and lots of science that goes into each decision it doesn't mean Netflix gets it right all the time one Twitter user found the cover art for like father a movie about Kristen bell Kelsey Grammer and Seth broken her cover art that didn't precisely match who the lead actors in the Film were it was also kind on to see on my own account that a cat woman thumbnail has a barely recognizable supporting actress Sharon stone and blade and help some other then it's then it star Wesley snipes in the thumbnail Netflix is obsessed with A.B. testing new features like video promos, intro skipping in autoplaying trailers just as they are with testing thumbnails. Netflix wants everyone to watch more, so it's like the devil stopped doing these tests. Moreover, if you don't like being a guinea pig, opt-out is the option, but would binge-watching quickly become a national past-time? It is likely when Netflix "asks you, are you still watching," you will be.