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How Netflix gets to know you

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It can sometimes be downright creepy the way streaming services like Netflix and Spotify pinpoint your tastes precisely. Obviously, much of it is based on the genres and performers previously accessed. But there is more to it, as Netflix told us in the following guide.

The Basics

Whenever you access the Netflix service, the recommendation system attempts to help you find a show or movie to enjoy as quickly and easily as possible. The service bases its suggestions on a number of factors including  interactions with the service (such as how you rated viewed titles), information on titles available on the service (such as the genre, release year and cast) and how they compare to your favourites, and the viewing preferences of other members who have a similar taste in entertainment.

The Netflix recommendation system does not include demographic information – like age or gender – as part of the recommendation making process.

If you can’t find something you want to watch under the recommendations, you can always search the comprehensive catalog. When you enter a search query, the top results returned are based on the actions of other members who have entered the same or similar queries. Netflix has  also introduced mobile previews on your on-the-go devices, giving you a fun,and easy way to learn about new content and find what you want to watch even faster.

“Jump starting” personalised recommendations

When you create your Netflix account, or add a new profile to your account, you are asked to choose a few titles that you like. This information is used to “jump start” your recommendations, giving Netflix a starting point to work from with a basic understanding of your preferences. Identifying these titles is optional but if you choose to forego this step, you will begin your Netflix experience with a list of diverse and popular titles to choose from. Your viewing preferences from this point will then feed into the recommendation system and enable greater personalisation as time goes on.

For those who do enter some of their favourite titles to jump start recommendations, once you start watching other titles on the service, this will “supercede” any initial preferences and the titles you’ve watched more recently will outweigh titles you watched in the past in terms of driving recommendations.

Rows, rankings and title representation

In addition to carefully selecting which titles to include in the rows on your Netflix profile homepage, the recommendation system also ranks each title within each row and ranks the rows themselves – all in order of what you’re likely to enjoy most.

The most strongly recommended rows are therefore placed at the top, with the most strongly recommended titles at the beginning of each row, on the left (unless you have selected Arabic or Hebrew as your language in which case these titles will be ordered from right to left).

So, if you’ve ever thought that maybe your Netflix profile knows you better than your closest friend – you may be right. But it’s not magic, it’s just the “Netflix Effect”, personalising the entertainment experience.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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