A lesson from Netflix: Choose ads that look like content

There have been a lot of changes in how customers experience video content. The can fast forward through commercials, utilize streaming services where customers can pay extra to skip commercials, and implement ad blockers. In response, advertisers are finding new ways to promote their products.



Ogilvy’s quote draws attention to current advertorials in magazines or newspapers. Advertorials are paid for space that look like editorial content. The next step of “advertisements that don’t look like advertisements” is native advertising, ads that look like content (and in a way, predicted by Ogilvy).

One company on the forefront of native advertising is Netflix. Rather than “spamming” their viewers with unwanted content or ads, Netflix now creates advertisements that people choose to engage with. These native ads and the content they are developing are on next wave of advertising. Netflix’s Dark Mirror is now running a campaign developed in response to the change in the industry.

Dark Mirror shows a dual ad: one for online users that have ad blocker, and one for users that don’t. Their campaign changes the content shown to people using ad blockers. A screenshot of the ad is below:

Non-advertising content, especially 007 movies, have received some criticism in the past for their heavy commercialism. With some movies doubling as a long car commercial and sponsored by a specific Vodka brand (shaken, not stirred), it’s surprising that Netflix has not received a similar backlash.

While Netflix advertisements, especially for Black Mirror, might be “creepy,” most of their other efforts have been well received. Their article in the Atlantic took top awards at Native Creatives and was covered by Digiday.

Rather than content doubling as an advertisement, which seems to have a negative connotation, it is advertisements doubling as content that is well received. Perhaps this is a lesson for marketers in the new year: Beware of heavy product placement and embrace engaging advertising that works as content.

What trends are you thinking about in the new year?

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