Netflix wants to bring personalization to mobile devices

For Netflix, the concept of personalization doesn’t just apply to what movies or television shows tickle your fancy. It also applies to the way you watch video, especially when it comes to mobile.

People watch video differently on their smart phones than TV, explained Netflix Design Director Dantley Davis onstage at Gigaom’s Roadmap conference, so the design and user interface has to reflect that.

Mobile users tend to check their phones about 150 times a day and spend around 10 minutes tops watching video streams, which is obviously not conducive to the roughly hour-long episodes of Orange is the New Black.

To address this, Netflix is experimenting with “bite-sized content,” meaning specialized versions of TV shows cut down to five minutes to satisfy those mobile viewers. The difficulty is making sure that the show is “contextually relevant” to the viewer and shows something compelling.

Netflix also wants to apply personalization to the visual icons people see when they choose shows to watch. The streaming giant convinced Hollywood to move past the standard VHS box art and DVD cover art that used to represent shows on [company]Netflix[/company] to now showcase Netflix’s own custom-tailored graphics (made in conjunction with the film industry).

Now, Netflix is planning on using custom graphics that change depending on a specific user, determined by one’s mobile device. For example, Davis said that he loved watching Star Wars because he saw it as an epic sci-fi action movie, whereas his sister watched it for Princess Leia. It could be that one day, a Netflix user, based on their interests, will be able to see a specialized Princess Leia graphic that represents the show and other users will see different images.

The whole idea is that “with mobile [Netflix] can be more personal and more adaptive,” Davis said.

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