Elon Musk, Twitter, & The Rise of Netflix Ads


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Social Media, Gaming, And Streaming, Oh My!

This week marked the dramatic takeover of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk. Since his ownership, there have been mass layoffs, advertiser dropouts, and general disconnected rumblings from some in Hollywood circles. However, it's not all bad news for brands. 

There are plenty of opportunities for companies to take advantage of this updated digital space, including gaming and streaming partnerships. In this blog, Hollywood Branded breaks down the upcoming Twitter updates that Elon Musk is implementing, the Burberry/Minecraft partnership, and the roll-out of Netflix's ad model. 

Elon Musk, Twitter, &  The Rise of Netflix Ads

Twitter Has Become Polarizing 

With Elon Musk's recent takeover and the concern that the fate of humanity is being left to the potential of uncontrolled bots driving hate speech and violence due to his promise of unfettered access - many in Hollywood are calling a time-out on Twitter for advertisers or abandoning the platform altogether. Celebrities including Shonda Rhimes (creator of Scandal, Bridgerton, Grey's Anatomy), singer Toni Braxton, Bill & Ted's Alex Winter, model and influencer Gigi Hadid, Grammy award winner Sara Bareilles, actress Téa Leoni and dozens of others have abandoned the social site. Others, including Rob Reiner and George Takei, have urged people to stay on the site to help provide more balance. 

Even Amber Herd took the opportunity to leave - but likely not for the same reasons of concern over free speech as the others have had. Frankly, she needs some time out of the spotlight for her brand after the media trial of the century.

For those brands or individuals who have yet to secure the desired blue check mark, letting all who come across your account know you are verified and legit - now's your chance. For $8 a month, you will, after election day, be able to pay a fee to guarantee the privilege and all that it brings. If that still has credibility left.

Musk begins his Twitter ownership with firings, declares the 'bird is  freed' | Reuters

Photo Credit: Dado Ruvic | Reuters 

Musk has threatened to go 'nuclear' in his outing of brands who stop advertising at the suggestions of multiple media agencies.  From my experience, it's never been proven to be a suitable standard operating procedure to threaten your clients into staying by saying you will shout from the rooftops to bring their company down. Perhaps setting up safety nets so brands are less fearful would be a more beneficial approach. 

Regardless, Twitter will surely be in even more headlines in the days, weeks, and months ahead.  For any brands who are planning campaigns, it's fair to say you might want to focus on your other social platforms for the time being while this gets more sorted out.  Twitter is not going away, and it is a solid social platform in general, but it, like all the others, has some tough decisions to make on policing its users to ensure chaos does not ensue.

Luxury Brands And Gaming

As a first step, there is the digital gaming world to conquer for brands pondering how to approach the metaverse. Burberry launched an in-game collaboration with Minecraft with a customized in-game adventure called "Burberry: Freedom to Go Beyond, which includes a real-world capsule collection that allows game fans to live the ethos of digital in their everyday lives.  

This is far from the first luxury brand to go in-game, with Louis Vuitton becoming a fan favorite of e-sports, Balenciaga's Roblox collaboration, and Ralph Lauren's partnership with Fortnite.

In the game, the fantasy comes to life in the City of London real-world headquarters of Burberry.  Taking inspiration from the brand's own heritage, the brand is seen in the Equestrian Knight, the Thomas Burberry Monogram maze, and mystically empowered animals.  A pixelated Burberry logo is featured in-game, along with five looks available as digital avatar skins complete the in-game At the same time, while a real-world capsule collection includes the Waterloo Trench Coat, Car Coats, logo-print sweatshirts, hats, scarves, and hoodies.

Burberry: Freedom to Go Beyond in Minecraft Marketplace | Minecraft

Photo Credit: Minecraft.net

Netflix Ads Are Here

Not only is Shonda Rhimes upset about Twitter's lack of policing of hate speech, but she's also leading the creator's fight against Netflix for destroying their original vision of ad-free content.  

If you are a full-service subscriber, you aren't encountering ads any time soon. Or so we are being told. We'll see how long that lasts. Subscribers now pay monthly fees and give some of their own time in exchange for the discounted ability to watch ads. One catch, not all of Netflix's programming will be available to ad viewers, as those licensing deals forbade the ability for content to run on an ad-supported network - carving out a unique niche that Netflix has now walked back on. 

Little red padlocks adorn those shows that are not available to be watched, teasing you with the tantalizing opportunity just beyond your reach, ahem,, subscription increase, to unlock that content too. Similar to a broadcast network, a set number of :15 and: 30-second ads will run hourly. For broadcast TV viewers, the average series is 22 minutes, which results in 8 minutes of commercials every half hour, or 16 minutes per hour.

For Netflix, this initial subscription tier reduces that commercial load to 4 to 5 minutes per hour. That's still a lot less commercials - and you are paying for that with your subscription in part. But it's not like the traditional TV block - Netflix ads are supposed to be fit into the best breaks within content - content that is entirely written VERY differently than standard drama or sitcoms, which are formulaic and laid out to create natural ad breaks. Netflix series and movies were never meant to be advertised in - so it's going to possibly feel very much like that movie that runs forever and ever on cable TV with the content stretched out to allow as many ads to run as possible. Netflix, however, is saying they are keeping a cap on the amount of commercials, and they have created actual job positions where people, not machines, are reviewing content and choosing where they think those ads should run. Most content will have an ad at the front but might not have any inside the actual content (what we could call midroll), while other programming may have commercial breaks throughout. It's fair to say that Netflix is still figuring it out. 

Netflix Ad Tier Launches Today In Eight Countries: What to Know – Deadline

Media agencies who have had their brands freaking out at the drop in impressions from network TV, JUMPED at the opportunity to be on Netflix, and the ad inventory quickly sold out. Realize that there are still no metrics in place to tell advertisers how many viewers truly saw your spot, as Netflix does not release data except at its own choosing. 

While you can pause the ads, in real-time viewing, Netflix provides a countdown clock showing you how long is left in your ad break - letting you know if you have time to sprint to the fridge or go for a bathroom break. Sounds like how you view regular TV, right?

I'm keeping our full-priced subscription with the hope that ads are kept at bay. But I have a feeling they will be finding a way to encroach even at the highest tiers eventually.  Those ad dollars are hard to say no to, and our experience with streaming is guaranteed to continue to evolve to become ever more monetized.

I'm MOST excited for our clients to see when Netflix finally decides to embrace paid integration supported by an ad buy - an advertiser's dream come true.  Currently, brands are allowed to pay on SOME reality series on the platform, with scripted series usually a 'no.' It will happen. Someday soon.

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Eager To Learn More?

Want to gain more insight into Elon Musk's somewhat disastrous Twitter deal, bad publicity, Netflix, and more? Then look no further than these Hollywood Branded blogs: 

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