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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Netflix Contest Winning Entry : Link from IMDB

(first posted to Sudden Technology 10-09-06)


I'd like to commend your efforts to improve Cinematch.

But haven't you overlook the obvious?

While you're waiting for some geek to improve Cinematch by 10%, there's a solution that will MORE than DOUBLE the effectiveness of movie search for Netflix.

Let's take this design from the top...

What's the most powerful tool in any search? That's right, the human mind. And when the object of the search is as personalized and subjective as a movie, even when the human mind is wrong, it's right! Take care to keep the customer in the loop.

What's the next most powerful tool in any movie search? That's right, it's IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base). A simple Netflix button on each IMDB movie page would dramatically improve search and selection for Netflix.

Face it guys - Netflix may have a nice site, but it doesn't even get close to what IMDB will do. It's time to mash something up.

IMDB is not only good with movie data, it's actually one of the best (and fastest) examples of TRUE hyperlink searching on the Internet. It's made the Kevin Bacon game kid's play.

Even if you only consider the simple searches by director, cast, crew, or title, you can get around quicker than any other comparable collection of data in the world. EVERY industry should have such text-based search tools.

IMDB is so quick and easy, I've even used it as a spell checker. When I can't immediately find a word in the dictionary, I do some free association with a movie title containing the word. If I can't remember the actual title, I simply cross-reference to one of it's actors. IMDB is THAT fast. IMDB is THAT effective.

And when you consider IMDB's Keywords, user ratings and compound searches, things improve by another order of magnitude. IMDB's Keywords are what Netflix's Genres SHOULD be. It's where you can find thousands of user-defined topics with the movie selections listed by user-defined popularity. Keywords are worth more than 10% all by themselves.

And don't forget the Power Search for when you want to get technical with complex searches. If you can't find movie data on IMDB, you're not likely to find it ANYWHERE on the Internet.

OK. So lots of IMDB movies won't be on the Netflix list. Button data would be a powerful indicator of what to stock next. And it would still be worth it for the ones that are. It would be so nice to click a Netflix button then go on searching at IMDB with no Cinematch splash screen interruption (hint).

Yes, I already copy and paste the IMDB movie title to Netflix for queue additions, and it works fine. But why not make that step automatic? This feature would be FAR more useful than a 10% improvement in Cinematch any day.

And no, I don't work for IMDB. It's just such an obvious solution, it deserves a blog post.

So, get over to IMDB with a busload of lawyers and geeks. With Netflix's volume, there MUST be a reasonable link fee solution. The rest is just standard technology. And don't let NIH (Not Invented Here) get in your way. Do it before one of your competitors does.

And if you still want to give away some money...

Make the check out to Sudden Consulting.

Thanks a million.

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