Thursday, October 7, 2021

How Netflix Creates Thumbnails

Netflix offers thousands of choices of shows to watch, but members make their choices based on a single image. Images drive the process. 

Netflix creates multiple images and tests them. Their research team has found that members will tend to click on the thumbnail that shows a the face of main character, especially if it shows a complex emotion.

For example, for the series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt above, the bottom right thumbnail was the "winner," meaning that it drove the most engagement.

Nick Nelson, Head of Product Creative for Netflix, says: "
"It's well known that humans are hardwired to respond to faces -- we have seen this to be consistent across all mediums. But it is important to note that faces with complex emotions outperform stoic or benign expressions -- seeing a range of emotions actually compels people to watch a story more. This is likely due to the fact that complex emotions convey a wealth of information to members regarding the tone or feel of the content, but it is interesting to see how much members actually respond this way in testing."
How does Netflix come up with a specific set of images that a given member will see? Here are some more takeaways:

• People usually spend less than 2 seconds on each image and 90 seconds overall.
• Instead of using the movie producers' marketing image, they come up with their own.
• Machine-learning algorithms decide which image to show you based on your viewing history.
• Each show has multiple thumbnails.
• Images shown for a give movie usually varies from one member to another. 

Watch the rest in this YouTube video: Why your Netflix thumbnails don’t look like mine

1 comment:

Jeff Dillon said...

This thumbnail practice has been frustrating for me as a viewer since the visual images are much more distinct and interesting than many of the titles. I'll watch something and form an opinion and then a few months or a year later Netflix will show me a shiny new image that appeals to my sci-fi or fantasy interests, and I'll click on it only to discover it's something I've already seen or rejected. And of course many times the images are from otherwise interchangable special effects scenes that are only loosely connected to the plot or characters.