How do advertisers make the most of the streaming services millions of watchers?
We look at how product placement can overcome the obstacles brands are facing.
In a world where 74% of Netflix subscribers would rather cancel their subscription to the service rather than watch ads, it begs the question: How do advertisers make the most of the streaming services millions of watchers?
The leading answer looks to be product placement. Product placement is far from a revolutionary concept. You need only look at 1989’s ‘Back to the Future Part II’ which prominently featured self-tying Nike shoes and Pepsi Perfect – both of which graced our shelves last year to celebrate Marty McFly’s trip to 2015. It has long been a staple of television and film.
But Netflix have taken things to the next level, aided in no small part by the sheer bingability of their flagship shows. From Orange is the New Black’s episode dedicated to Dunkin’ Donut’s to the controversially ‘blatant’ product placement in The Ranch, Netflix have embraced their relationship with brands wholeheartedly.
And it’s no more evident than in their flagship Netflix Original, House of Cards. Entire segments of dialogue throughout the seasons have been dedicated to the latest in technology, including Frank’s musings on the Sony PlayStation Vita, and iOS’ Monument Valley featuring as a prominent plot point.
It’s a clever way to advertise without adverts. What makes it even more compelling for the viewer is that, embedded into your favourite television shows, they hardly feel like an advert at all – and often contribute to the plot in a meaningful way. Interestingly, Netflix themselves have little to do with the actual production of the shows, so the instances of product placement can be traced back to the show’s producers.
American beer manufacturers Ab InBev, whose various beers prominently feature in the show, explained to Advertising Age that often, no money actually changes hands, and that they had built up a relationship with Kevin Spacey for some previous work with his production company. They received scripts of House of Cards early on, and thought it would be a good idea to send them over a couple of crates of beer – the rest, as they say, is history.
And Netflix aren’t the only ones. Competitor Amazon Video have also entered into the world of product placement with their original Mr. Robot featuring – what else? an Amazon Echo. In a show packed to the brim with the latest in technology, it fits seamlessly into Elliot’s world. You’re never sucked out of the experience, and featuring the item doesn’t feel like product placement, but much more like a plot point – it’s advertising done right.
It’s a trend that looks set to continue. Netflix is ever expanding, with Amazon hot on their heels and YouTube set to release their own original video content sometime in the future. If advertisers can continue to introduce their products in innovative and meaningful ways, then viewers will keep coming back for more content – and considering Monument Valley received 8 times the number of downloads they usually would after their House of Cards appearance, it’s clear that they’ll keep coming back for the products, too.