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Google, NBCUniversal duking it out to be Netflix adtech provider

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Netflix is playing catch-up in the AVOD game

Ads are coming to Netflix, and Google and NBCUniversal are fighting for the lucrative right to provide them.

Why it’s happening. Until recently Netflix’s position as the dominant streaming service allowed it grow revenue without advertising. A subscription price increase earlier this year led to a loss of about 200,000 subscribers. The first loss in more than a decade. Despite this, Netflix says its user base continues to grow. One explanation: Password sharing. That would explain why there are fewer subscribers but more viewers


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The company is now also facing serious challenges from other streaming providers. So, even though its revenue continues to grow, it is looking to bolster them with a lower-priced, ad-supported subscription option. Bringing in Google or NBCUniversal, could make this happen much faster, though it could still be a year or more before it becomes a reality. 

The case for NBCUniversal. It’s likely that a partnership with NBCUniversal would be exclusive. Their ad unit, FreeWheel, would provide the necessary technology to deliver the ads. The NBCUniversal sales team would help to sell the ads across Europe and the US. 

The case for Google. Google brings its own ad platform, which Netflix is currently a customer of. An agreement with Google could mean an exclusive arrangement, but it hasn’t been confirmed. 

Both competitors are currently working with other large brands. A potential deal with Netflix could mean sharing access to its tech partners and audiences. NBCUniversal is the exclusive reseller of ads for Apple News and Apple Stocks since 2017 and has recently expanded into the UK. Google had been providing ad service to the Walt Disney Co. (a previous FreeWheel customer and current Netflix competitor) since 2018.

What Netflix is saying. Netflix hasn’t provided any details of its plans, how many ads will run, ad targeting, or reach. 

Read the announcement. You can read the article from the Wall Street Journal here.

Why we care. From outside, Netflix’s subscription price increase, the fourth since 2018, seems an odd choice. It was announced at the end of January when inflation was already a growing concern for consumers. Also, viewers were already complaining about decreasing quality in new content while old favorites were no longer available. People are cutting spending and may turn to one of the emerging high-quality, lower-cost competitors.

Those competitors are also either ad-free or offer an ad-free version at a low cost. So an ad-supported Netflix tier may not be all that appealing. It’s rash to second guess a company as successful as Netflix, but this doesn’t seem to be a well-thought-out plan.

Read next: Why we care about adtech: The complete guide


About The Author

Nicole Farley is an editor for Search Engine Land covering all things PPC. In addition to being a Marine Corps veteran, she has an extensive background in digital marketing, an MBA and a penchant for true crime, podcasts, travel, and snacks.

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MARKETING

How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

Matt Hartley is not a marketer.

And yet, he is a 2022 B2C Content Marketer of the Year finalist.

Though seemingly incongruous, it’s not. Companies don’t all approach content (or marketing) with the same organizational structure.

Matt leads editorial strategy for TD Bank Group as a senior manager in the corporate and public affairs department. Under his leadership, TD Stories took home top honors for Best Content Marketing Program in Financial Services and earned finalist mentions for Best Content Marketing Launch and Financial Services Publication in the 2022 Content Marketing Awards.

Those results prove that department, title, and reporting structure don’t matter if the content works.

“We tell stories aligned with (the company’s) communication goals. We’re not necessarily looking to sell something. It is about brand building, thought leadership, financial literacy,” Matt explains.

Here’s how a non-marketer finalist for Content Marketer of the Year built an award-winning program.

If the #Content works, details like reporting structure, title, and department don’t matter, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Launching the newsroom

In 2018, Matt joined TD as a content strategist. He was hired partly because of his background in reporting and creating new content products. Matt had worked as a technology reporter at The Globe and Mail and the National Post. He also created the Financial Post Tech Desk, a home for Canadian and international tech news, and was the founding editor of the Post’s arcade video-game news site.

TD leadership had recognized the shifting media landscape. They saw fewer earned media opportunities and turned to Matt to help scale a TD-owned channel called TD Newsroom.

While TD Newsroom aligned with the external communications goals, it ended up with an internal audience – less than 10% of visitors came to the site from outside the bank.

Turning the content program inside out

TD Newsroom’s importance grew when the pandemic hit in 2020, making some forms of traditional customer outreach impossible. No longer just another tool in the communication toolbox, TD Newsroom became pivotal.

“Creating our own content and being able to distribute it became crucially important to us,” Matt says.

The TD Newsroom team focused on creating branded service journalism (content intended to help customers), and traffic to the site increased substantially. Topics such as banking tasks you can carry out online, budgeting for income impacted by COVID, and planning an emergency fund took center stage.

That was the beginning of the TD Newsroom evolution.

“We were rethinking how we did content and where the customer was in their journey,” Matt says. The team also doubled down on data-driven content and refined its content strategy.

In 2021, TD Stories debuted. “It places the customer at the center of the story. It tells stories that resonate with customers and colleagues,” Matt says.

The site’s tagline – “Enriching lives one story at a time” – reflects this mission.

TD Stories organizes content around five pillars (as shown in the site navigation in the screenshot above):

  • Your Money features financial tips and advice.
  • Innovation highlights new technologies to create more personalized banking experiences.
  • Community features stories about TD’s involvement in the communities where it operates and where its employees live.
  • Colleagues tells the stories of employees.
  • Insights features thought leadership from the bank’s executives.

TD Stories places the customer at the center of the story, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada, via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Making everything count

“We’re a small but mighty team within corporate affairs. It’s a flat team – everyone brings ideas to the table. It really wouldn’t work if it wasn’t as cohesive as it is,” Matt says.

The digital content team also functions a little like an agency. In corporate affairs, they work with relationship managers for categories such as personal banking, insurance, US banking, etc., as well as product, partnership, and philanthropic managers.

“We work with them to create the stories. We may pitch to them, asking for a subject matter expert to help us tell a story, etc.,” Matt explains. “We could not exist in a vacuum.”

He oversees a digital content team that includes a data-driven strategy role that has been critical in the TD Stories evolution. That added focus has helped the team in its content development.

For example, the bank’s editorial calendar revolves around repeating deadlines and patterns. Deadlines for retirement plan contributions and income tax returns occur during the same period every year. And each spring, more people begin house hunting.

With TD’s digital content team amping up the content measurement strategy, Matt and team can analyze how well those yearly content pieces perform. They also can better understand what people are searching for, so they can refine and improve the next content iterations.

“We can take those moments and make those moments fresh,” Matt explains. “We can ensure the customer gets the best and most accurate information possible.”

The metrics reflect the team’s dedication to excellence. In 2021, traffic to TD Stories grew more than 125% year-over-year. Almost all the traffic (98%) comes from external sources, including 25% from organic Google searches.

Knowing the real goal

“At the end of the day, the content is not the end goal. The goal is to help educate the customer and help them feel more informed and financially confident. When you keep that in mind, the actual structure of a story or every sentence is a means to an end,” Matt says.

Educating the customer is the goal – story and sentence structure are the means to that end, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

That’s part of the secret science of brand journalism. As Matt explains: “Take the objectives of the business and marry them with stories that the customers find engaging and useful.”

And that’s an award-winning formula regardless of department name, title, or organizational structure.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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