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The Power of a Picture 封面的力量

Nick Nelson

Head of Product Creative

The Power of a Picture


03 May 2016


Imagine having to tell your friend about the last movie you watched through a single drawing on the back of a playing card. If you had to encapsulate the entire movie into a few inches to convince your friend they’d love the movie, what would it look like?


As detailed by my colleague, Gopal Krishnan, in this technical blog post, we have been working hard the past few years to create a framework that allows us to effectively intersect big data with creative, ultimately helping members discover stories they will enjoy even faster. As a result of that work, we now have the unique ability to understand how to most effectively tell our members why a story is right for them -- all through a single image.

正如我的同事Gopal Krishnan在此技术博客文章中所详述的那样,过去几年来我们一直在努力创建一个框架,该框架使我们能够有效地将大数据与创意相交,最终帮助用户更快找到电影。这项工作的结果是,我们现在具有独特的能力,可以通过单一图像来了解如何最有效地告诉用户为什么故事适合他们。

Broadly, we know that if you don’t capture a member’s attention within 90 seconds, that member will likely lose interest and move onto another activity. Knowing we have such a short time to capture interest, images become the most efficient and compelling way to help members discover the perfect title as quickly as possible. After all, the human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds.


In early 2014, we conducted some consumer research studies that indicated artwork was not only the biggest influencer to a member's decision to watch content, but it also constituted over 82% of their focus while browsing Netflix. We also saw that users spent an average of 1.8 seconds considering each title they were presented with while on Netflix. We were surprised by how much impact an image had on a member finding great content, and how little time we had to capture their interest.


Around the same time, we launched a charming original documentary called "The Short Game" and we wanted to do everything possible to help that title find its audience. Gopal goes into more detail here on this title and how we have approached testing imagery. In the end, we saw one clear thing -- using better images to represent content significantly increased overall streaming hours and engagement from our members.

与此同时,我们发行了一部迷人的原创纪录片,名为“ The Short Game ”,我们想尽一切可能帮助该片找到观众。Gopal会在此处详细介绍该影片以及我们如何进行测试封面图。最终,我们看清楚一件事情:使用更好的封面图来表示内容,大大提高了整体流媒体播放时间和会员的参与度。

Since then, we have built a system that tests a set of images for many titles on our service -- helping display a compelling image to drive engagement. In developing this system, we learned many interesting things around imagery and what actually compels a member to watch a title. Here are some of the biggest trends:


Emotions are an efficient way of conveying complex nuances 情绪是传达细微差别的有效方法

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. An example of this is seen in the recent winning image (“winning” means it drove the most engagement) for the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt below:

众所周知,人类对人脸做出硬性回应。但是要注意的是,情绪复杂的面孔胜过坚忍或良性的表情-看到各种各样的情绪实际上会驱动人们去了解故事。这可能是基于复杂的情绪会向成员传达有关内容的主题或感觉的大量信息这一事实得来的。但是有趣的是,有多少用户在测试中实际上以这种方式做出了反应。以下是Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt第二季的近期获奖图片(“获胜”表示其参与度最高)就是一个例子:

Great stories travel -- but regional nuances can be powerful 精彩的故事旅行-但地区的细微差别很不同

While we are becoming more connected across cultures, we have seen that regional differences still exist and are important for some titles and imagery. A good example of this is Sense8, a Netflix series in which eight people can telepathically experience each other’s lives. Sense8 has diverse appeal given its many international actors and storylines, and it is a story that resonates with many different types of people. When it came to the artwork for this title, this diversity was reflected in the winning images and how much they varied between different countries and cultures: Examining regional differences helped us see that while great stories transcend borders, it is important to understand how presenting each story in different regions impacts how quickly members from around the world actually discover that story through artwork.

当我们在各种文化之间变得越来越紧密地联系在一起时,我们已经看到区域差异仍然存在,并且对于某些电影和封面图来说很重要。Sense8就是一个很好的例子 ,这是一个Netflix系列节目,其中八个人可以心灵感应地体验彼此的生活。Sense8拥有众多国际演员和故事情节,因此具有多种吸引力,并且这个故事引起了许多不同类型的人的共鸣。当涉及到该电影的封面图时,这种多样性体现在获奖的图像中以及不同国家和文化之间的差异:检查区域差异有助于我们看到,尽管伟大的故事超越国界,但重要的是要理解在不同地区每个故事的内在呈现方式。这会影响来自不同地区会员通过封面图发现该影片的速度。


Nice Guys Often Finish Last 好人经常活到最后

Throughout our research, we have seen that using visible, recognizable characters (and especially polarizing ones) results in more engagement. Our members respond to villainous characters surprisingly well in both kids and action genres in particular. For Dragons: Race to the Edge, the two images of villainous characters seen below significantly outperformed all others:

在整个研究过程中,我们发现使用可见的,可识别的字符(尤其是两极分化的字符)可以提高互动度。我们的成员对孩子和动作类型中的邪恶角色的反应出奇的好。对于Dragons:Race to the Edge,下面显示的两个恶棍角色图像明显胜过其他所有图像:

Less is more when it comes to cast size 少即是多

One of the earliest trends we saw was an image’s tendency to win dramatically dropped when it contained more than 3 people. This directly informed our creative decisions for Orange is the New Black, as is evident when you look at the main creative for each season side by side:

This can feel counter-intuitive, particularly with shows that have an eclectic mix of talented lead characters. But while ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway, they are too complex at small sizes and ultimately, not as effective at helping our members decide if the title is right for them on smaller screens.

我们看到的最早趋势之一是,当包含3个人以上时,图像获胜的趋势急剧下降。这直接说明了我们对Orange是New Black的创意决定,当您并排查看每个季节的主要创意时,很明显:


Imagery is a powerful thing -- it has the ability to move people in so many different ways. Over the last few years, we have worked hard to learn how a winning combination of technology and creative helps members discover stories they will enjoy faster and ultimately, have a better Netflix experience. While the results from our research were often surprising, it is clear that an image can move people in powerful ways and done right, pictures can help people find the stories that they will love even faster.


Nick Nelson (On behalf of the people and teams contributed to this effort)