Netflix was courting adland execs at Cannes Lions, trying to convince them of the benefits of a new take on targeted advertising that would see a series of interrelated ads function almost as mini TV series.
The streaming giant’s plan would involve a revamp of its ‘Basic with Ads’ subscription tier and would show viewers “episodic” ads that were connected and referred to each other, akin to mini TV series.
In practice, this would mean no repeated ads throughout a viewing window — whether that is an hour or ten hours long — but would mean that consumers see ads for similar products over multiple breaks.
This new approach to advertising comes per a report in the Financial Times, which cited unnamed ad industry insiders and follows a dip in the streamer’s share price after word emerged that it is “reconsidering” its current approach to its ad plan.
Marketing execs told the FT that Netflix’s co-chief executive Greg Peters and Jeremi Gorman, president of worldwide advertising, explained to them that the streamer would look to introduce more sophisticated ways for brands to advertise to viewers, including more directly targeted spots that are not possible on linear TV.
One exec said that Netflix was working on its own tech solution — it is currently borrowing smarts from Microsoft — to enable better targeting.
“They’re building [their own technology] in the background. Once they have their own they’ll do free standing. Microsoft is the interim ad server, but that’ll change when they build their own,” he said.
“The plan for Netflix was just to get to market quickly last year. This is not the final way they’re going to do it. They are going to be very creative. There’s going to be a better, a different experience.”
Another explained that Netflix would be able to use its first-party customer data to create more bespoke marketing.
“They’ll know what you’ve seen,” he said. “So the old days of making episodic work may be back because before you could never guarantee what people have seen already. Now you can write 15 episodes of an advert and guarantee that the viewer will see them in the right order. So that’s really interesting.”
Netflix, on its part, declined to comment on its advertising plans and pointed to the announcements made at its Upfronts in May that saw the company announce new series sponsorships and measurement tools.
At present, Basics with Ads viewers get four-to-five minutes of commercials per hour of viewing at the beginning of and during content. Advertisers, however, are still relatively underwhelmed by Netflix’s ad tier — Melissa Fein of media agency Initiative said that the launch of the product was “flaccid” during B&T‘s recent Cannes in Cairns extravaganza, for example.
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