Netflix trials personalised pre-roll video ‘previews’ to promote its original programming

Netflix tests pre-roll video to promote original programming

Netflix has been testing the use of pre-roll video ads - what it calls ‘previews’ - that are personalised to each viewer’s interests and used as a way to promote the streaming services' big-budget original programming.

The ‘previews’, which are 30-seconds in length, act as a trailer for upcoming Netflix original series or movies to give viewers a better idea about what the show is about rather than using a still image.

These 30-second spots play before the show the user is about to watch and take into account the viewing habits of the individual user to ensure the original they are promoting is relevant to that user.

Currently there is no ‘skip preview’ button - instead users can skip the videos by fast-forwarding.

Netflix confirmed to The Drum that it is experimenting with personalized video recommendations, but that this is merely one of "hundreds of tests" it conducts throughout the year.

“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," a spokesperson for Netflix said.

"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?"

It's not the first time Netflix has experimented with pre-roll video ads, having introduced video previews within its TV application in December last year which appear as users scroll through the navigation.

However, this appears to be the first time personalisation has been used to woo viewers to relevant shows. Before the preview begins, a message appears that reads: “The following exclusive preview has been selected just for you.”

Netflix told TechCrunch that the use of video previews helps users make quicker decisions while browsing, in turn increasing the time spent watching, and increasing the episode completion rate.

The streaming giant invests most of its subscription revenue on content acquisition in order maintain its user base. It plans to spend $6bn on original programming this year, eclipsing most broadcaster budgets and that of its direct competitor Amazon's which has been tipped at $4.5bn.

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