Netflix is Testing Personalized Trailers


Part of Netflix‘s success stems from the fact that the streaming service is constantly innovating and looking for ways to bring new experiences to subscribers. While that mostly takes the form of groundbreaking original content, Netflix has also been testing new interface features and price plans lately, many of which have been met with some pushback from subscribers. For one, Netflix changed their beloved five-star ranking system earlier this year, replacing it instead with a simple thumbs up/thumbs down option. Users were not amused, many of whom petitioned Netflix to bring back the old rating system. Now, Netflix is testing another new feature that is sure to draw the ire of armchair media critics everywhere: personalized pre-roll trailers.

The new personalized trailers are 30 seconds long and screen before users’ selected content begins playing, and cannot be skipped. Users can fast forward through them, however. Netflix has also tried to soften the blow by making these trailers “personalized” based on users’ watch histories, although given that these trailers will only promote Netflix original series and films, there is only so much personalization to be had.

When pressed for more information about what boil down to personalized advertisements, Netflix released a statement to TechCrunch concerning the trailer tests:

At Netflix, we conduct hundreds of tests every year so we can learn what helps members quickly find and start their next great binge. We’ve already seen the positive effect of the video previews we rolled out last year. Now we’re experimenting with video based on personalized recommendations for shows and movies on the service or coming shortly. If we don’t test, we won’t learn and we’ll never get better, and who wants that?

Some Netflix users have reported seeing the ads both on the web and on some hardware platforms like game consoles and Roku boxes. Some even took to Reddit to try and convince others that they should cancel their Netflix subscriptions in light of the trailer addition. No word yet on how successful they’ve been – especially with Castlevania and Stranger Things season two coming out soon. You can always mute them – or fast forward.