Netflix tested preferences by showing users fake TV shows and ratings

Over the next few weeks Netflix will be rolling out a completely redesigned website. This is the first time in four years that the TV and movie streaming site has made a big update to its homepage.

But this doesn’t mean Netflix hasn’t been thinking about redesigning.

In fact, it’s had a team of data scientists working diligently to figure out how best to present the content it has to attract the right kind of viewer. This included sending Netflix users fake TV shows to illicit survey answers from its subscribers, according to The Verge.

Netflix’s VP of product innovation Todd Yellin told the publication that it has been testing certain features to consumers for quite a while now. Some got to try out a new way to scroll through movie selections, others were even interviewed in their house by Netflix researchers to better understand just how they used the service.

And quite a few Netflix users were emailed fake content too see if they would click on it. The Verge writes:

[Netflix] also sent out 15 million email surveys, sometimes with fake shows and star ratings to determine which is more effective in getting someone to watch. The exercise has the potential to tell Netflix any number of things, like if people really care about half star differences in ratings, down to if they’re still checking their email.

Yellin explained that analysing what Netflix customers actually do on the website gives the company useful information about how to improve the experience.

Business Insider has reached out to Netflix for comment, and will update this post accordingly if we hear back.

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