In case you haven’t heard, Netflix is proudly trumpeting the arrival of banner ads. While this might please stock holders, I’m not sure how much value advertising clutter affords the typical customer. In fact, on my 1024×768 laptop the new banner ad for Sony’s Monster House combined with the Netflix Father’s Day promotion fills nearly 50% of Firefox with crap.
Personally, I find this development at odds with CEO Reed Hastings’s recent comment to Business Week: “We think the differentiator will be this incredible Web site.” Plastering Netflix.com with banner ads is not incredible and certainly doesn’t differentiate you. Actually, it does differentiate you from most pay services which are banner-free — web advertising has largely been the domain of free online services (such as yours truly).
With that in mind, I wrote Netflix customer service hoping to broker a deal. I told them as a paying customer, I’d rather not see third-party advertising. Assuming they would choose Sony’s deep pockets over my relatively shallow ones, I also offered a compromise of having Netflix lower my monthly fee by 25 cents for every banner ad I’m served. Customer service rep Crystal responded, “We understand your concerns with advertisements on the Netflix site. These advertisements are designed to enhance customer experience with content that appeals to our members’ movie tastes and cannot be removed from your individual site experience.” Sadly, she didn’t respond to my almost-revolutionary advertising model.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a huge deal (more like a slightly disturbing, though not entirely unexpected, development)… However, someone should call them on it and I nominated myself. ;)