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Discussion Starter #1
Netflix Knows Which Pictures You'll Click On-And Why

http://www.fastcompany.com/3059450/netflix-knows-which-pictures-youll-click-on-and-why

'The research indicated that looking at images not only prompted users to watch content, but accounted for a whopping 82% of their time spent browsing (as opposed to, say, reading movie titles or descriptions). In other words, the images mattered almost four times more than the text describing the storyline. Members also spent only 1.8 seconds considering each title. "We know that if you don't capture a member's attention within 90 seconds, he or she will likely lose interest and move on to another activity," says Nick Nelson, Netflix's global manager for creative services. "Images become the most efficient and compelling way to help them discover the perfect title as quickly as possible."'

Some cool, and surprising info in the article.
 

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It's ironic that in a world where a lot are leaving print behind, that a "cover" should be so important in the digital version of a book. The cover is essentially a short-hand version of what the book is about or at least should try to convey the essence of the reading experience. So in that sense a cover in the online world is even more important than its print counterpart.
 

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This is very interesting. I can see that, it's faster to recognize an image then read a description. It's also probably easier on smaller screens like phones and tablets, too.

-Jennifer
 

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It's incredible how much it matters. I was browsing Netflix the other day, and saw they changed the thumbnail for the X-Files. I'd stopped watching after the 1st season. Now I saw the same show with a different, modern image and I was like "wow, I should really get back into this. It looks cool." Completely changed my interpretation of what was inside the tin, so to speak.

Nick
 

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Too bad the really good artists charge what they're worth. LOL. I keep hoping to find a diamond in the rough on Fiverr. My current cover is alright, it's what I asked for...but I would have loved an artist to hear my description, what I wanted...and slap me in the face for being so ignorant, hehe. Five or ten bucks is about what I can afford right now.

Anyway, thanks for the link.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Jim Johnson said:
Great stuff, Lou, thanks for sharing it. Given that, how has that information changed how you work as a cover artist? Is there more pressure to make just the right image, or is it as challenging as it has been?
Well, it reinforces some things I've suspected. And I often look at movie posters for inspiration anyway--they are designed to work both on billboards and in thumbnail. What surprised me was the part of facial expressions. The example was just plain goofy, not something I'd normally use, but then again it was for comedy. I'm regularly frustrated with the blank looks of stock photo models.
 

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Great article, thanks for sharing. I browse Netflix the same way and even Bookbub I do a quick scan of the covers see which one jumps out at me. I didn't even realize I was doing that right away.

This is interesting: "However, one interesting thing that Netflix discovered is that people tend to focus more on images of people displaying complicated expressions over stoic or benign ones. "

I've used silhouette image on my cover but maybe showing an actual face with an expression would engage people more. I realize it's different than a movie or TV show with actors and actresses vs a book character.
 

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Lou Harpr said:
Well, it reinforces some things I've suspected. And I often look at movie posters for inspiration anyway-they are designed to work both on billboards and in thumbnail. What surprised me was the part of facial expressions. The example was just plain goofy, not something I'd normally use, but then again it was for comedy. I'm regularly frustrated with the blank looks of stock photo models.
They're probably trying for the Kuleshov Effect, which makes sense. Kuleshov's goal was to demonstrate the power of editing, though, and not to contrast that with the impact of a properly emotive actor. Perhaps his findings are a bit oversold when you can get the real thing instead of editing around it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Alan Petersen said:
I've used silhouette image on my cover but maybe showing an actual face with an expression would engage people more. I realize it's different than a movie or TV show with actors and actresses vs a book character.
There's definitely something about the actor effect. I was browsing Netflix earlier and clicked on a movie just because I saw Martin Sheen on the cover. I associate quality with him, but the movie turned out to be rubbish. At the same time, I think American movie poster design tends to focus too much on the stars, at the detriment of the overall design.
 

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Neat article, although I don't necessarily agree with their takeaways. Besides the international audience one, the rest basically come down to "which has the largest/ easiest to read character on it?"

So, sure, 3+ people will get crowded and small, and that's bad. But the villains versus heroes? Come on, those hero pictures are tiny and unreadable versus the large single villain shots. Not that I disagree in some cases, especially when you have a bland hero and a very compelling enemy like a dragon. And the expression thing also (I think) simply comes down to readability.

Essentially, this is reinforcing what indie authors already know: thumbnail readability is key.
 

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Nicholas Erik said:
I was browsing Netflix the other day, and saw they changed the thumbnail for the X-Files. I'd stopped watching after the 1st season.
Nick, that's criminal.
 
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Anarchist said:
Nick, that's criminal.
Yup.
I liked the old X-files cover better...the new one reminds me of the new reboot--which SUCKED!
 

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That's funny, because I said something along those lines about NetFlix to my partner recently.

In my part of Australia, we only got internet fast enough to run NetFlix in March this year. And when looking at the movie 'covers', I said that if I'd have NetFlix before, it would have completely changed my view and understanding of genre book covers. I absolutely do click on movie 'covers' according to how interesting the image is. And am more likely to watch a movie if I like the cover.

Only thing is, book covers aren't presented as nicely and large as movie covers.
 
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