Netflix Billboard Advertising: A Bold Move in the Heart of Hollywood

Although they say the classics never go out of style, even the most lauded titles experience a period of being overlooked. This is as true for marketing channels as it is for classic movies and television shows.

Should you need proof, look no further than the latest Netflix billboard advertising campaign.

The online streaming giant will invest millions in billboard ads this summer, primarily to spread the word about high-profile shows like the critically-acclaimed newcomer GLOW and the sixth season of fan favorite Orange is the New Black.

Analysts also speculate that the move is designed to be something of a statement to the powers that be, as the disruptive new media darling flexes its muscles right in the heart of Hollywood. If you're an actor, producer, or any kind of content big shot working out of Los Angeles, these billboards are going to be staring you in the face this summer.

If all goes to plan, it should be a stark reminder that traditional content moguls can take nothing for granted as digital media continues to gain momentum.


New Media Embraces the Established

Given the decade and a half of disruption that the company has wrought on traditional media companies, this latest Netflix billboard advertising represents something of an ironic promotional strategy.

Netflix is embracing billboards precisely because they dominate the skyline and provide a physical presence for a company that is rooted in online culture. It is a statement of intent that the company simply could not achieve with a digital ad buy.

As we explored in our recent piece on new media companies using out-of-home (OoH) advertising, promotional channels like billboards, print media, and radio ads are all making a comeback as digital startups come of age.

As companies that were born online start to grow up, it is inevitable that they will start to explore more traditional forms of advertising.

Having built a loyal following among digital natives, they will find further growth elusive if they fail to connect with other audiences.


The Key to Measuring Billboard Advertising ROI

Brands pay top dollar for visual space in the likes of Times Square and Hollywood because they can reach a mass audience with a clear message. No amount on online advertising can replicate the sheer volume of foot traffic and public visibility of a billboard.

With all forms of OoH advertising, the call-to-action (CTA) remains critical to translating the media spend into measurable results.

Netflix is charmed in this regard because the brand itself is the CTA. It has become part of our cultural landscape and viewers know exactly where to go to get the promoted content. They are one of the few companies that occupy the top tier of brands, a household name that has no need to advertise a phone number or a website.

In that sense, Netflix and a handful of other global brands are the exceptions that prove the rule: if you don't have billions of dollars in your marketing budget, you have to make it clear how customers can reach your business.

In fact, for other brands who have the right target audience and a promotional budget that makes billboards a viable marketing channel, a clear and prominent CTA is the essential ingredient to seeing a return on investment.

Because of the nature of the medium, having a memorable CTA is imperative. Whether it’s a catchy tagline, a campaign-specific URL, or a vanity phone number, make sure your ad tells viewers what to do next.

The bottom line is that both traditional and digital channels are required to reach the broadest possible audience in today's media landscape.

Online channels provide exact targeting and detailed analytics, while OoH advertising offers unique access to the masses, which builds broader brand awareness. Taken together, the two provide a compelling multimedia marketing mix that benefits everyone from small businesses to international brands and plucky digital startups to established e-commerce companies.

The short-term reasoning behind the Netflix billboard advertising strategy may well be gamesmanship, but the long-term impact could move the company from disruptive Silicon Valley startup to the very Hollywood elite that Netflix is challenging with its latest ads.

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