A data scientist from Netflix is revealing how the streaming service's secretive algorithm offers personalized recommendations to its subscribers, and it is almost scary how much the company knows about its customers.
"The algorithms know you better than you know yourself," former Netflix employee Xavier Amatriain said.
In its early days, Netflix allowed users to create playlists and form a queue of movies they plan to watch in the future, according to Business Insider. The company soon learned the data showed that subscribers were creating the queues but rarely actually watching the content they flagged.
"What was the problem? Ask users what movies they plan to watch in a few days, and they will fill the queue with aspirational, highbrow films, such as black-and-white World War II documentaries or serious foreign films. A few days later, however, they will want to watch the same movies the usually want to watch: lowbrow comedies or romance films. People were consistently lying to themselves," a former Google data scientist named Seth Stephens-Davidowitz wrote.
"The result: customers visited Netflix more frequently and watched more movies," Stephens-Davidowitz said.
Why Netflix Doesn't Over-Personalize Content
Several years ago, Netflix's vice president of product innovation Chris Jaffe said that the company is careful not to overpersonalize content. However, the algorithm is specific to each user.
Jaffe said: "We work on constantly making that experience better and better. It's a unique approach. In some companies [that are] evolving the product, the product team might be the driver: the team comes up with the idea, design, builds, launches, and sees what happens. My team can't make that decision. We come up with the ideas, but what drives product decisions is our customers and what customers do and how they use the product."
Part of what has been hugely successful for Netflix in the past couple years is the original content that the company has produced on its own. Hit shows like Stranger Things, House of Cards, and 13 Reasons Why have all been massive hits, but it's actually not as important that you watch the company's original shows. Netflix just cares that you are watching any of its available content.
"We don't really care if you watch Jessica Jones or Marco Polo, we just want you to watch," Jaffe said. "We have to make customers happy and that's the single guiding light. As we think about customers, we think about how they are spending their time. The biggest challenge for Netflix is: if you're tired and it's the end of the day, you could read a book or a magazine, you could go on Facebook, watch linear TV, or watch Netflix. We want to make Netflix so engaging you keep choosing it."prevnext
Netflix Cashes In On Subscribers Over-Optimism
While it may be a little creepy how closely Netflix is monitoring the shows and movies you are binge-watching, it is hardly the only company to engage in such activity. For example, gyms and exercise facilities have learned to harness the power of human over-optimism.
"They've figured out you can get people to buy monthly passes or annual passes, even though they're not going to use the gym nearly enough to warrant this purchase," Stephens-Davidowitz said.
He continued by saying: "But the overwhelming majority of people buy these monthly and yearly passes, thinking they're going to go 30 or 60 times. Gyms have made a lot of money capitalizing on the consumer's overoptimism."
For Netflix this strategy has worked in the company's favor in that many customers may plan on binge-watching loads of content on a regular basis, but in actuality may not end up viewing enough to justify the cost of a monthly subscription. However, subscribers still have to pay the rate they signed up for.
One way that Netflix continues to build its enormous subscriber base is by offering new content all-year round. The streaming service recently announced the new TV shows and movies coming this month, and there are some thrilling titles that will definitely make you get your money's worth in viewing time in June.
Check out the new titles on Netflix in June below.prevnext
Here's What's Available On Netflix This Month
1 Night (2016)
13 Going on 30 (2004)
Arrow: Season 5 (2016)
Chingo Bling: They Can't Deport Us All
Days of Grace (2011)
Devil's Bride (2016)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Intersection: Season 2 (2016)
Kardashian: The Man Who Saved OJ Simpson (2016)
Little Boxes (2016)
Mutant Busters: Season 2 (2016)
My Left Foot (1989)
Off Camera with Sam Jones: Series 3 (2015)
Playing It Cool (2014)
Spring (Primavera) (2016)
The 100: Season 4 (2016)
The Ant Bully (2006)
The Bucket List (2007)
The Queen (2006)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
West Coast Customs: Season 3 (2013)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Available on June 2 Through June 7
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season 5, Part 2 (2016)
Flaked: Season 2 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Inspector Gadget: Season 3 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Los Últimos de Filipinas (2016)
Lucid Dream - NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Saving Banksy (2014)
The Homecoming: Collection (2015)
Acapulco La vida va (2017)
Blue Gold: American Jeans (2017)
War on Everyone (2016)
TURN: Washington's Spies: Season 3 (2016)
Suite Française (2014)
Disturbing the Peace (2016)
Dreamworks' Trolls (2016)prevnext
June 9 Through End of Month
My Only Love Song: Season 1 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Orange Is the New Black: Season 5 - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Shimmer Lake - NETFLIX ORIGINAL FILM
Black Snow (Nieve Negra) (2017)
Daughters of the Dust (1991)
Sword Master (2016)
Oh, Hello On Broadway - NETFLIX ORIGINAL
Quantico: Season 2 (2016)
Photo Credit: Netflixprev