The Netflix recommendation system works like magic but the science behind it are life lessons in itself.
It’s interesting how our Instagram discover feed is always based on who we follow, our recent likes, and our general internet history. It works the same for YouTube. They all scan our search and interaction histories in making up a curated list and recommendations for us. Even Twitter has a trending tab that’s “tailored for you”. All social media platforms seem to do it like “magic” and as someone who barely has it all figured out when it comes to “adulting”, I only hope life can be as systematic as this. In a conversation with a Netflix representative, we asked them a few questions on how the app works and it did teach us a thing or two about life. Who would have thought that navigating through life can be taught to us by the Netflix recommendation system?
Netflix follows a basic algorithm just like other social media platforms. They look through our search and viewing history as well as how we rate shows we have seen. With these two being similar to that of YouTube, it can’t be that of a surprise how a bunch of romcoms appears on suggestion tabs on your profile after watching and liking ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ and ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’. But an important part of Netflix’s system is how they observe communities that are around you. They gathered millions of information from each country and gathered what communities are in the country. For example, they found a lot of k-drama enthusiasts in the country and so they started to add it to your recommendations. Not to mention, they also factor in genres, release dates, and actors you watch the most.
The platform also apparently records the time of day we watch, devices we watch on, and for how long we watched the series. These little things apparently make up one whole dashboard of movies and series that eventually pile up on our personal watchlists. As the list goes on, the Netflix recommendation system slowly starts to make sense.
Life In Netflix’s Language
If you’re like me who sometimes find life a little too hard to deal with right now, here are a few tips from the Netflix recommendation system:
1 Work With What You Have
Even Netflix collects specific information such as devices and time of when a series is watched to understand what works best for you. There are a lot of times when life would challenge us and to look for an alternative is not always an option. Learning how to work with what you have can be a big advantage to you. For example, you’re stuck in traffic and there’s a sudden demand for a report. There are a bunch of apps you can work with where you can remotely access the information you need. Stuck in a fashion dilemma? Mix and match with what you have in your closet and don’t forget to add some accessories to complete the look. Just like what the Netflix have in mind as they devised this algorithm, where there’s a will there’s a way.
2 Demographics Aren’t Necessary
Unless you work in the marketing field, someone’s demographics aren’t really important in building relationships with someone. Just like that, Netflix doesn’t use your demographic information in creating your dashboard. They’re all looking at preferences and recommendations made by you. Someone’s gender or income shouldn’t factor the friendships and romantic relationships you should make. There are a lot of people out there from different backgrounds who share similarities of interests with you. Who knows? They could be the one.
If you think they’re done with just figuring out which show you’d like, then you still have a lot to learn. Netflix’s algorithm also helps the system rank each row and each show in that row. Netflix puts the most strongly recommended row on top. Shows that are most strongly recommended are put at the left-most part of the row where it starts (unless you have selected Arabic or Hebrew as your language in our systems, in which case these will go right to left). Just like Netflix, it’s always best to find the system that best suits your lifestyle. Knowing what to prioritize is the easiest way to start. Go from macro to micro if needed—are you the family first type or the career first type of person? Knowing what to put at the top of your list will make everything else easier.