Netflix wants to pay you to watch shows - here's why

Netflix wants to pay you to watch shows - here's why
Tag! You could be it

Someone somewhere in the world right now is currently getting paid by Netflix to watch TV and movies. Yes, you read that right. Netflix has created one of the best jobs in the world and it is all to do with making its recommendation algorithm the best it can be.

Netflix currently has around 40 taggers but this number is about to rise, with news that the company is recruiting 'taggers' for the first time in the UK and Ireland.

The job entails watching TV and films on Netflix, analysing them and tagging them, with a selection of about 1000 different words that cover tone, plot style, era, setting, description and so on.

"We see ourselves as a match making service, which means that we get to know our members and how they interact with our service," said Todd Yellin VP of Product Innovation for Netflix to TechRadar.
Yellin is the brains behind the tagging operation, something which he decided to start up when he joined Netflix way back in 2005.

"When I came on board Netflix 8.5 years ago, our recommendations were reliant on how people rated titles. The things is for some people it is a bit of a nice challenge to give things a star rating but for a lot of our users they considered that work.

"We still offer ratings but it is not as important nowadays. The core stuff for us now is paying attention to what users watch. That can tell us how many categories they like so the tagging effort started heading in that direction."

Become a tagger

How do you apply to become a tagger for Netflix? Well, Netflix will be releasing a YouTube video with all the information. But, you have to know your films and television to stand a chance, explained Yellin who is a self-confessed film fanatic.

"I do consider myself to be a film geek and I am into a lot of the content on Netflix and that's what we want. What we are looking for is someone who is a real expert on movies on TV shows.

"They may have done script coverage for a production company or have been a film critic or someone who is just mad about movies.

"When we have winnowed it down to a manageable number, we will give them a title or two to tag and see what happens."

As for where in the UK and Ireland you are, it doesn't seem to matter. As long as you have an internet connection you can do the job.

"It is a beautiful thing to be in a virtual world; you could be on an isolated farm or in a bustling city. We have around 40 or so taggers at the moment and are looking for one or two more."

This is the first time that taggers have been recruited from outside the US and Yellin is hoping that it will mean that Netflix will be able to offer deeper personalisation that is more culturally aware.

"There are always different cultural subtleties and we want to capture this in the the UK" said Yellin who is hoping that strengthening his tagger team will help Netflix to offer the right content to the right people, regardless of their gender, age, colour or creed.

"It's funny. What we have found is that age and gender are weak signifiers for recommendations. The second we watch something - that is a much bigger signifier. Viewer behaviour tells a story and there are people with an incredibly diverse taste, so we hope we get that from our taggers too.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.