We’ve all been there. You’re bored and searching for something to watch on Netflix. Do you jump into the new season of House of Cards? Watch that obscure nature documentary? Check out that show Narcos that your friends won’t shut up about?
What makes a person pick one show vs. another? According to Netflix, it’s images.
Netflix recently released the results of a new study, finding that the title images associated with its programming are the biggest reason why someone will pick Peaky Blinders over Orange is the New Black. In fact, Netflix figured out that if they don’t capture a person’s attention within 90 seconds, the viewer will find something else to do, like switching to Hulu, cable TV or YouTube.
Who knew? In the early days, the company just got title images from its studio partners and ran with them. But with such a short window to engage a viewer, title images have become crucial. In fact, Netflix says in a recent blog post that “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.” The streaming giant also found that users spent just 1.8 seconds considering each title they were presented with.
“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,” Netflix says.
But which photo is the most engaging? Is it the one where the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt points at the camera with a two-toned background? Or is it the one where Kimmy and Titus look like they’ve got a little secret only they know? (Hint, it’s the second one.) In fact, Netflix tried out six options. Check them out:
As a marketer, you already know that images are extremely important to reaching your core audience. As Netflix learned, visual marketing is crucial to getting people’s attention and keeping them engaged.
Here are a few takeaways:
Faces are important, but emotions are huge: “It’s well known that humans are hardwired to respond to faces,” Netflix says. “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.”
Villains aren’t mean. They’re awesome: “Throughout our research, we have seen that using visible, recognizable characters (and especially polarizing ones) results in more engagement,” says Netflix. “Our members respond to villainous characters surprisingly well in both kids and action genres in particular.”
Just one cast member will do: “While ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway,” says Netflix, “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.”
Want to learn more about how to unleash the power of photos? Check out our Complete Guide to Visual Commerce: How to Command Attention in a Content-Driven World.