WHY NETFLIX TRANSLATES SHOW AND MOVIE TITLES

PROJECT SUMMARY

Do people click and watch more if the title of a show or movie is in their local language? I was the team lead for a test to determine the impact to viewing hours for translated vs. original English-language titles.

WHAT I DID

  • Cross-functional Research Planning
  • Synthesized Findings
  • Wrote the Guidelines for Global Product Creative Team

TIMELINE

8 weeks start to finish including writing guidelines for recommended processes.

INTERESTING FACT

The preference for a translated title often depended on the genre — for instance action, comedy, or documentary.

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FIGURING OUT THE "WHY" TO GET TO THE "HOW"

The problem: The graphics team is overwhelmed by requests from the globalization team to create individual artwork for 26 markets for each translated title. This leads to errors, last-minute fixes, and lack of consistency between marketing and the user-facing product.

Hypothesis: Some genres will perform better with a localized title, leading to higher take rate, increased Originals streaming, and increased overall streaming. Other genres will perform better with one shared title for all markets.

Solution: Test which titles perform better and create guidelines for localized titles to streamline the process. The goal is to reduce the number of localized assets the graphics and marketing teams have to create. This way the quality of the translations and artwork increases, and people can spend more of their time on high-priority titles.

I was the Globalization team lead, which meant I worked with three leads from other teams to create the testing criteria. I later synthesized the findings into regional guidelines for each market. This led to a faster translation time, reduced costs, improved approval process, and increased overall streaming in all markets.

WHAT I DID

As part of the Global Product Creative Team I was the lead working with four other teams at Netflix to test the performance of translated titles. After the findings where analyzed, I wrote guidelines for all 26 markets.


20

Titles Analyzed and Tested in 26 Markets


26

Regional Guidelines Created


4

Cross-Functional Teams


INCREASED

Take Rate and Streaming

 

THE PROCESS

The goal of the project was to reduce the number of localized assets the graphics and marketing teams had to create. Netflix releases 80-100 original titles per month.These titles all have to be evaluated for translation.

My task was to look at existing viewing data, market sentiment, and feedback from interviews with stakeholders to make the best recommendations for testing. I took those results and created template guidelines for all 26 Netflix markets.



IDENTIFY THE TITLES


The tested titles had to have a fairly broad appeal. They could not be titles connected to a social media or marketing campaign promoting the title under a different name. This would cause a waste in marketing spend and confusion for users.


SYNTHESIZE THE DATA


Titles were tested with new members and existing members in an A/B test. After reviewing the results and observing a significant lift or drop-off, I created a reference table of recommendations for genres, high-profile titles, and markets.


CREATE THE GUIDELINES


I created a template guideline for all markets that could be modified with regional examples. During the following 3 months, error and fix rates dropped by 80% and translation time was reduced by 50%. We also saw a significant decrease in spending.

CROSS-FUNCTIONAL PLANNING

The project involved working with stakeholders across regional marketing teams, UI team, and buyers of content for Netflix.

 

FINDINGS & GUIDELINES

TESTING AN UNKNOWN TITLE WITH A TARGET AUDIENCE OF WOMEN AGES 30-50

“Las chicas del cable” is a Spanish TV show that we expected would have small appeal outside of Spanish- speaking markets. We tested three versions: English title, Spanish original title, and translated title. The translated title had the biggest lift and actually led to an increased viewing of foreign-language titles.

Chicas Del Cable

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Genres and target audience have a huge impact on the expectations for the name of title. A title that doesn’t draw a lot of attention on social media, may be more suited for translation to appeal to people when they are in the “discovery phase” while browsing Netflix.
 

TESTING A KNOWN BOOK TITLE WITH A TARGET AUDIENCE OF YOUNG PEOPLE AGES 12-25

"13 Reasons Why” is a popular book by Jay Asher and was well known by it’s translated title in most markets. We assumed that a title matching the book title would do well, but due to word of mouth and social media, people referred to refer it by the English name, or simply 13RY.

13ry

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA TAKES OFF?

“13 Reasons Why” sparked controversy and garnered a large fan following who connected online sharing memes and thoughts about the show. The original English title became the most common way to refer to the show. Spanish-language social media posts even called it “Trece Reasons Why,” mixing the two languages.
 

TAKE A PEEK AT THE GUIDELINES…

The goal for any guideline or style guide is that they are read and used. For this reason, I made the guidelines short and actionable with examples for each category. The guidelines were distributed to over 200 freelance and vendor translators as well as internal marketing teams, content buyers, and graphics team.

I provided training for external contractors and aligned six global vendors with our guidelines.

By having one source of reference for all teams, error and fix rates dropped by 80% and translation time was reduced by 50%, to 1 week from 2 weeks. This also led to spending ~20% less per market for the translation process.

Netfix Style Guide