No. 14: Netflix’s audience whisperer
Chris Jaffe VP of product innovation, Netflix
Chris Jaffe finds innovative ways to keep 125 million subscribers hooked.
Netflix’s army of subscribers—
125 million and counting—drive the investor confidence that saw the company’s stock rise 60% in the first four months of this year. And it’s Chris Jaffe’s task to get those folks to click on, and enjoy, enough TV shows and movies that they’ll stick around. As the company prepares to roll out 80 original movies in 2018, here’s how Jaffe is adapting user experience and playing matchmaker to keep engagement high. LIMIT THE PREAMBLE:
Rivals start promoting their big tentpole movies years in advance, but Jaffe says that strategy doesn’t work for Netflix. “I’ve done exhaustive testing—9, 12, 18 months out—and it doesn’t seem to resonate,” he says. Jaffe uses Netflix’s menus, in-app notifications, and even old-fashioned email to alert people to new content when it’s “actionable.” TAILOR THE PITCH:
Jaffe says he is “excited to have people watch Bright or Stranger Things the moment it launches,” but unlike traditional entertainment brands, Netflix doesn’t need blockbuster audiences the first weekend. Jaffe leans on data to figure out when it’s best to suggest a show to viewers. If you’ve been watching programs with strong female leads, Netflix’s interface may recommend Glow. It’s new to you. OFFER A TASTE:
“Our members watch a lot of trailers in our mobile UI,” he says, so in April he introduced Previews, a stand-alone viewing experience where users can watch original 30-second clips in the vertical format. “When you open Netflix, you’re used to seeing rows of posters. Now you can just cycle through and watch trailers all day.”