A new insight from the blog The Long Tail in this post by Chris Anderson. My experience resonates strongly with the quote below. Recommendations are the best social filter in most cases leading to the highest satisfaction level. More about software-based, mobile and/or personal recommendations in my own musings on this topic.
"DVD renters are much happier with the DVDs they get from recommendations (which tend to be to older DVDs) as opposed to new releases, as shown by the following slide from a presentation that Netflix's Jim Bennett gave at the Recommenders06 conference in Bilbao last month.
Additionally, search, recommendations and other filters tend to drive demand down the tail, from the hits down to the niches where minority tastes are often better satisfied. Aside from happier customers, this also has some clear economics benefits for Netflix. It so happens that older titles, well down the Long Tail of time, are both cheaper to acquire and tend to get higher ratings than new titles (mostly because they've passed the test of time and have moved beyond the fog of hype that accompanies new releases). Not only that, but Netflix can also buy fewer of them, since as you go further down the curve the demand is spread out over more titles and there's less of a need to buy stacks of expensive new blockbusters to satisfy the rush of rentals requests around the release date."