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    ‘Stylish, modern and engaging’: marketers react to Netflix’s ad experience

    The streaming service has revealed its hotly-anticipated ad product and dropped a 30-second teaser pre-roll. We ask marketers what they make of the ad experience. 

    With the help of Microsoft’s Xandr, Netflix has built its Basic with Adverts product in just six months, with roll-out starting from November 1.  

    To show the industry what to expect, Netflix released an example of a pre-roll ad for its original series Emily in Paris. The 30-second spot for NYX was premium, glossy and featured a line-up of edgy and diverse women.

    Dan Gorman, chief executive officer of streaming ad tech firm Atelier, says the design of the ad is “stylish, modern and engaging” and in keeping with the Netflix brand. “Netflix is renowned for iterating and continuously improving the user experience, and we can now expect the same approach to the advertising experience,” he says.

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    Netflix’s ad load will average four to five minutes per hour and the spot will either be 15 or 30 seconds in length. Goman stresses the importance of ad load times and warns Netflix against increasing ad load over time as Hulu did in January, increasing from 9-10 ads per hour to 12.

    “If you look at most of these major ad-supported services, they are plagued with the same irrelevant ads, being short on ad inventory and long ad load times,” he says. Getting its ad load wrong would risk “frustrating [audiences] and cause them to switch,” Goman says.

    Netflix also said its ads will appear before and during series and films, although new release films will not be interrupted. Jordan Bitterman, chief marketing officer at TripleLift, says starting with pre-roll units is an obvious choice, but he hopes to see other ways of monetization. “Netflix is uniquely positioned to elevate the advertising experience so that everybody wins.”

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    The streamer has assured the industry that the product launching in November is not the final product and that more features would be added post-launch. “Integrating brands into its programming with product placement and ad overlays inserted programmatically could be a good next step,” Bitterman suggests.

    Netflix already gets revenue through branded content and partnerships with shows such as Headspace Guide to Meditation and product-filled shows including Stranger Things, but there is a potential for Netflix to further blend content and advertising.

    Ed East, group chief executive officer and founder of Billion Dollar Boy, says Netflix should tap influencers and use talent from its original content. “This can help to create ad content that feels as native to the platform as possible and keeps engagement high through the fan base. Think ‘Walter White’ promoting pizza before an episode of Breaking Bad, or ‘El’ pitching Eggo after an episode of Stranger Things,” East says.

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    After watching Netflix’s teaser ad, Tom Roach, vice-president of brand strategy at Jellyfish, believes Netflix could inspire creatives to up their game. “At $60 CPM to advertise on Netflix, my hunch is that many brands will go to a much greater effort to produce outstanding creative with the highest-possible production values than this demo below suggests. It could be an exciting time for real creative advertising,” he says.

    Netflix offers brands the opportunity to sit adjacent to the world’s biggest shows on the biggest screen in the house, Roach says. “There’s nothing like knowing your ads will be seen very publicly to push people to make the best creative work they can. Netflix is an iconic brand that helped create a resurgence in the quality of the TV we watch. If it’s able to sprinkle some of that magic on to our industry too, then we all win,” he adds. 

    After admitting that TV and digital advertising needs a shake-up, Roach says Netflix has the “conditions in which creativity is proven to thrive.” 

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