Change in Netflix UX will Reap Dividends

by · September 5, 20134 comments

Confession time: I am a total brat about user experience and usability. I need for things to be easy, uncomplicated and uniform (you should pray for my husband. Really, go ahead, I’ll wait). So, when we went cable free a year ago, I needed to have simple, easy and uniform experiences on the all televisions in our house. That meant that we needed to get a bunch of Apple TVs (thanks Chase Ultimate Rewards!) and connect all the televisions in the house to the media server. So, we did that and now, I am living in television paradise because all of my experiences are uniform. Everyone knows how to use all of the televisions in the house because they are all the same. Same features, functionality, same, easy, requires little thought. YAY! Then, last month, Netflix rolled out “profiles”. And my experience got even better.

In the Parsons’ house, we all have different viewing habits and this new Netflix profiles process supports our household beautifully. With profiles, I can have the shows I watch all the time on the treadmill under my profile without cluttering up my son and husband’s queue. And vise versa! As much as I love SpongeBob and Johnny Test, I would rather not have to go through all of those shows to get to Orange is the New Black! The kid loves it because we can now find all of his shows easily. And the grown ups don’t have to worry about the kid accidentally selecting Breaking Bad or Walking Dead.

Personalization: Everybody wins

NetflixAll of this user experience improvement got me thinking about Netflix and their business model and what this additional wonderfulness is all about. Netflix has long been trying to develop ways to help keep tidy queues, but were reticent to have a user jump through hoops. Originally, Netflix was a household model. They wanted to have one subscriber in every household. But, when they got into the streaming business, they saw the reality is that many people live in a single household and can use a variety of devices to view content. And now, poof, we have profiles. And with this, Netflix is starting to develop a real personalization story by recognizing that their service is a one-to-many model.

Personalizing the experience is right up my alley. Everyone wants what they want when they want it. Netflix Profiles will help people build personal queues, find content that aligns with their viewing habits and help people discover new content based on what they already like. The engine is designed with the Netflix algorithm and by adding the profile layer, Netflix can develop even deeper personalization. And this is a consumer win, for sure.

In addition to the big consumer win, Profiles will also help Netflix in the content development arena as well. By segmenting and personalizing the experience they are not only trying to get a leg up on the competition, they can also use this information to feed the ever-growing Netflix content development division. With the Arrested Development coup and the Emmy nominated series House of Cards, Netflix is starting to look a lot like a network.

Knowing what specific people like in programming, say women 18-24, will help the company develop content that has a higher likelihood of being consumed and adopted into a regular viewing rotation. The intelligence they are developing about content consumption and viewing habits is likely designed to develop shows that cater to these very habits. If Netflix sees big consumption for shows that cater more to women (Orange is the New Black) they can make a case to develop more shows that are aligned with that audience’s interest. It’s just smart content creation and in the entertainment industry, risk is a really big issue because content can be incredibly expensive to create. So, now they know with better probability that content will be consumed, Netflix also has the ability to serve up “recommended” content, their content! Netflix can basically ensure that their original programming makes the list because it aligns with user habits and tastes because those tastes and habits helped inform the creation of the content…brilliant!

There have been countless occasions where I have touted the benefits of solving a customer challenge while building in benefits for your business. With this development for Netflix, it is clearly a win for consumers and a win for Netflix and their growing business.

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About Tracey Parsons

Tracey Parsons

Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.

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  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Lots of great points to think about here, Nichole! It’s really fascinating to see the experience we want and expect now. And yet do businesses really understand this? And when will they invest in giving us something that meets our expectations? There’s definitely opportunity for competition to step in.

    • Nichole_Kelly

      Thanks for the feedback Cindy! I agree there are definitely more questions than answers at this point, but I truly believe that the company who responds to the OnDemand needs of their audience first will have a huge opportunity to unseat their competition. Thanks for commenting!

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