Netflix Studies Which Photos Attract The Most Viewers

Curators’ Corner

Netflix Studies Which Photos Attract The Most Viewers

A 700-square-foot billboard plastered with the full cast of Orange Is the New Black will likely do well for advertisers hoping to keep the sitcom at the top of fans’ minds as a new season premiers June 17. But what about if that same image is scrunched up into a few square inches beaming across a tiny laptop screen? Not as much.

That’s why Netflix scaled back its feature images to include a single character for seasons 2 and 3. It’s also why they decided to learn more about what images actually encourage users to pick a show while clicking through the home page display.

Through consumer behavior analysis A/B testing, Netflix has figured out exactly what types of photos optimize user engagement. For example, they’ve learned that an ambiguous number “8” for the show Sense8 attracts the most clicks in Germany and Brazil, while in the U.S., an intense boxing photo of one of the show’s main characters, Sun Bak, is more popular among viewers.


With smarter tech-driven services making it easier for consumers to do the things they love, traditional advertising and marketing strategies are becoming less effective. The digital landscape is forcing commercial photographers and the other creative minds behind marketing campaigns to experiment with new techniques so that brands can remain competitive in their industry.

Netflix’s choice of imagery for Season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt nudges the one-character threshold with a photo of eccentric New York transplant Kimmy Schmidt glancing up at lovable Titus. Featuring expressive facial emotions and potentially polarizing characters, Netflix found that the promotion jived well with viewers—even over photos of the same characters with smiles and making ridiculous gestures individually.

NETFLIX Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Netflix’s findings open up an infinitely interesting discussion about imagery in marketing. What current and future trends are you seeing in the world of commercial photography? Share your thoughts in the comments below!