Netflix Goes Big on Native Ads

By Alexander Højfeldt Lund on September 21, 2015
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Netflix goes big on native ads. Native ads are becoming the cornerstones of the streaming service's marketing campaign for their original series. And Netflix doesn't create small ads. They go big and they go flashy.

The 'Snow Fall' of native ads

Netflix's first foray into the realm of native advertising was taken in May of 2014 when an ad appeared on and covered the future of TV. The ad has since been compared to The New York Times' editorial feature 'Snow Fall'. The Netflix ad 'TV Got Better'  is an interactive piece of media in which the reader scrolls through text, images and videos that, among other things, reveals an interview and a timeline that points to the milestones in television history.

TV GOT BETTER Anthropologist and author Grant McCracken is featured in the native ad 'TV Got Better'. The feature is about how new technology, like streaming video, is currently fueling TV's golden age. Photo: Screenshot from

Native ads are the new black

The second native ad that Netflix bought ran on The New York Times website in June of 2014 and looked at women's prisons. The ad was of course a way of promoting the Netflix original series 'Orange is the New Black'. The ad consisted of video, charts and audio to supplement text about female incarceration in the U.S. 'Orange is the New Black' is a show about a modern woman's experiences in prison . The paid ad never tells the reader to watch the show but it delves deep into the topic of women in prison.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK The ad for 'Orange is the New Black' was among the first native ads from the Times' department T Brand Studio, a nine-person team in charge of creating content for brands. Photo: Screenshot from The New York Times.

House of native advertising

In March 2015, Netflix paid The Atlantic and their in-house creative marketing group Re:think an undisclosed sum to create a lengthy, reported article with interactive charts and a video exploring the dynamic between certain U.S. presidents and their wives. The ad included the fictitious couple in the Netflix original series 'House of Cards'. The article, called 'The Ascent', is a native ad and it promotes the third season of 'House of Cards'. Netflix had already advertised the third season of the critically acclaimed series before the ad was created. However, the purpose of the native ad was to both encourage people to watch the show and create awareness of Netflix.

THE ASCENT The native ad for the third season of 'House of Cards' was created by The Atlantic's in-house creative marketing group, Re:think, which has 15 full-time employees. Re:think worked on about 100 custom campaigns in 2014 for brands like Chevron, All State, Lincoln and Rolex. Photo: Screenshot from The Atlantic.