What Just Happened!? Netflix targeting and ethnic profiles
26 October 2018
By the Withpr Content Team
Thank the marketing gods for personalisation. You’ve built up my data profile with my consent, because I did tick that box and opt in – yep, I know my GDPR rights and responsibilities. You’ve got an idea of my gender, age range, browsing history, likes, dislikes. That limits me from being bombarded by random ads that aren’t relevant. So far so good.
Oh wait, you’ve just showed me a misleading ad based on my skin colour – I’m not 100% sure I signed up for that…
Enter SVoD provider Netflix and an ad for Love Actually. Instead of the most prominent characters Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, a version of the ad with other characters Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley was being shown to black viewers. They did the same with ads for Set it up and Like Father and only when I watch the film do I then realise that they’re actually not major characters. (Granted, Chiwetel and Keira’s love triangle with Andrew Lincoln in Love Actually is a great sub-plot, but that’s not really the point, is it?)
Misleading methinks. And Netflix really did manage to pick its moment, since the ethnicity pay gap is now on the agenda too, along with the wider issue of diversity in the film industry.
Tech seems to have its very own way of accidentally highlighting inequality, by replicating ethnic minority bias. Training AI to align with liberal values is still a work in progress. Humans are going to have to put their heads together on this one, and work out how data can foster fairness. I think that’s part of what just happened with Netflix.
Shame I can’t binge watch and find out how the story ends all in one afternoon with this one…