Netflix Intros Banners; Sony Buys In

Online movie rental service Netflix began serving banner ads to subscribers this week. The company’s foray into advertising kicks off with a three-day exclusive site takeover by Sony Pictures.

Netflix expects to run mostly entertainment-related ads from studios on its site, figuring that folks renting DVDs will be receptive to ads for movies or television shows in the format.

“It’s a really great channel for a studio. It’s targeted at people who are renting movies [and TV series] and nothing else,” said Steve Swasey, director of corporate communications at Netflix. “We’re enabling studios to advertise to people who love movies and other programming.”

Ad inventory is available in a banner across the top of the page. Several packages and configurations of creative formats are available, according to Swasey.

Sony Pictures will use its three-day exclusive to highlight its upcoming animated film “Monster House.” The multi-execution campaign was designed specifically for the media buy. It includes a series of animated banners to rotate throughout the site. Each banner highlights a different character and message from the upcoming flick. Sony Pictures was also the first advertiser to buy space in the mailers sent with each rental.

The ads are served to registered subscribers about whom Netflix has geographic and behavioral data, but the company didn’t say what kind of data would be available for targeting. “Obviously advertisers want to know the value of their investment, and Netflix wants to be able to provide to advertisers the metrics they need to advertise,” said Swasey.

Swasey wouldn’t name additional advertisers buying inventory on the site, but said, “We have a great relationship with all the studios.”

In ForeSee Results’ annual Top 40 E-Retail Web sites study, Netflix ranked number one with 85 percent customer satisfaction. An advertiser itself, Netflix consistently ranks on the Top 50 Internet Advertisers by Media Value

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