75% of Netflix Views From Recommendations; Tips for Video Programmers

Services such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes have proven the value of recommendation engines. Netflix alone has said that 75% of what users watch stems from a recommendation.

More content providers are aiming to tap into the value of video recommendations to entice viewers to watch more of their videos, which translates into additional ad inventory to sell. Online video technology provider Ooyala  released awhite paper  this month detailing best practices for content programmers in offering recommendations.

Viewers often first arrive at videos through organic search, social media, promotion or recommendation. But if a site relies on organic search, then it’s more likely to lose a viewer after the first video, Ooayala said. “Having their attention is only half of the challenge: you have to follow through with a suggestion that is likely to appeal specifically to them.”

Recommendations based on the behavior of individuals and groups can be a smart way to tee up more videos. Viewers often want more videos on a particular topic, so recommendations can be based on the genre, subject matter, or creator, and videos should be tagged appropriately in a management system. But there are pitfalls with that approach too. Recommendation engines need to be smart enough to know what language or order a viewer is watching videos in, Ooyala said. “Don’t recommend episode 7 of something to a viewer  who has just finished watching episode 8.”

A good recommendation system may also want to integrate any related live video content to on-demand suggestions. In addition, a smart system should distinguish between popular videos — those that continue to perform over a long time — and trending videos — those that get a quick rise.

Online video discovery service Taboola recommends videos for its customers across their sites including on home pages, article pages, or next to the video player. The click-through on recommendations can range from single digits to as high as 35% depending on the placement, with article pages generating strong lift in terms of the number of clicks for recommended videos on those pages, the company has said.

Another option for a programmer is to include recommendations in the player itself, Ooyala said. “Where a more ‘lean-back’ TV-style experience is desired, it may be better to show a few key recommendations directly in the player so viewers can enjoy immersive full-screen playback with only occasional mouse or keyboard interactions to course-correct,” the company said.

Keep in mind that Ooayala has a vested interest in content discovery since it offers services in this area. Nevertheless, the white paper has many useful tips for other video providers to consider.

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