The Case Of The Netflix Banner Ad


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 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. ;)

4 thoughts on “The Case Of The Netflix Banner Ad”

  1. Probably means that video downloads are stealing away revenue and now they need to boost it for the Street. There is nothing more annoying then being on an eCommerce site and seeing banner ads. Your model seems fair to me.

  2. That Crystal quote is funny – it sounds so scripted, like they knew people were gonna call and complain.

    And yeah Dave, I said it before, your idea about getting paid to look at advertising is brilliant, and you should pitch that hard to TiVo, or at least get a patent…

    …or go through the EFF and say that your attention span has rights and deserves to be financially rewarded for viewing forced ads. You could become the Norma Rae of TiVo customers ;)

  3. I’m glad that somebody else complained too! I wrote them a feedback message as soon as I saw the new banner a couple weeks ago. I never heard back from them, but I noticed today that there are no more banner ads… this is why I went searching and found your post. Do you know if the banner ad was planned to be a temporary thing or did enough people complain to make them take it down?

  4. Sadly, it’s not temporary… I believe this is their business plan. In fact, I’ve seen at least one other movie banner since posting. We’re just between advertisers at this point as they ramp up.

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