4 Video Marketing Lessons Brands Can Learn from Netflix

Sydney Lucken

Marketing & Account Manager | Navigate Video


Whether you like it or not, Netflix has transformed the way people watch content. 

Turning the viewing experience entirely on its head, Netflix’s service has given the viewer the power. By the click of a few buttons, users can watch whateverwherever and whenever they want to. It’s easy, accessible and focuses entirely on the “user-first experience”.

However, adopting a similar user-first approach can be difficult for brands. If you push your message too much, even slightly, and the consumer becomes unhappy, there’s a huge risk of the viewer turning off and not wanting to come back.

What should brands do?

Here are four video marketing lessons brands can learn from Netflix’s success and how to put them into practice:

1. Generate an uninterrupted conversation.

One of the most appealing qualities of Netflix and other online streaming services is the lack of advertising breaks or rather “interruptions” for the viewer. Whether you are watching a film, a TV series or a documentary, Netflix offers its audience an entirely continuous and uninterrupted viewing experience. (Although, considering recent reports, this may not be the case forever…)

In relation to branded content, it’s clear that over the past few months, brands have been deviating away from the short-form, sales-driven ad format and instead turning towards a more long-form, storytelling-driven content marketing format, embracing this “uninterrupted” style of viewing. 

Create a journey for your viewers. What do you want your audience to do after they’ve watched your video? Do not just leave them to their own devices, but rather direct them to other videos within your channel, to your social media accounts or out to your website to continue their experience. 

2. Create a visual impression.

In December 2017, Netflix changed the way it recommends content to its 100 million subscribers. The new algorithm predicts what the user wants to see based on their previous watch history and applies a unique image that will appeal to the viewer’s interests. For example, if you like comedy films, you’re more inclined to see images of a character laughing

A year before the algorithm change, Netflix’s Global Manager of Creative Services, Nick Nelson, said: “We conducted some consumer research studies that indicated artwork was not only the biggest influencer to a member’s decision to watch content, but it also constituted over 82% of their focus while browsing Netflix.” 

Optimise titles and thumbnails. As people continue to consume huge amounts of content on a daily basis, brands need to tell their audience in the easiest and quickest way possible why they should watch their content. The film’s title and leading image should be presented in a way that clearly informs the viewer of the content’s subject, but at the same time entices and leaves them wanting more.

3. Understand the performance of your content.

Following on from the last point, Netflix’s new algorithm is also a great example of how brands should continually evolve what content they are showing their audience and provide them more of what they enjoy. 

Narrow in on what content is working for you. Continually assess your content to gain a real insight into your audience’s watching habits and feed those lessons back into your future content. The best way to do that is by looking beyond view count and analysing the video’s watch time as well as engagement rates.

4. Make your content accessible.

Unlike scheduled television, Netflix offers its viewers flexibility. If they want to binge watch all seven seasons of Mad Men, then they can. If they want to watch a film at 3am, then they can do that too. Content, as a result, is at the user’s disposal whenever they want it.

There are two types of target audiences’ marketers need to think about when creating their video strategy: the organic viewer, who will go looking for content when they want to see it, and the redirected viewer, who has been pushed into the brand’s direction, whether that be through an ad, a friend or social media. Either way, both of these types should be directed to the same place. 

Create a universal hub. Whether that’s a YouTube channel or a video section on the company page, making your content accessible and easy to use not only creates a better user experience, but it also offers the consumer the opportunity to see more of your videos, share them with others or come back to watch more if they wish to do so. After all, video should be at the start of your audience’s journey, not at the end.