Netflix has gone out of its way to avoid using the word “ads” in describing the limited experiment with video promos the streaming giant has started running between episodes of content for some users.
The company has been explaining the feature as just another way to surface recommendations, like the “For You” strip of recommended titles it presents to you. Now, some people are seeing video promos for other Netflix content slotted in as one episode of something they’ve just watched ends and right before the next one begins.
Whether you call them ads are not, they function the same way. The effect is the same, and users are just as mad as if you’d have gone ahead and called them ads in the first place. We detailed here, for example, some tweets from Netflix users who are let’s just say pretty bothered by the experiment.
To be clear, this is a very limited test, according to Netflix. The company will certainly be watching how people behave, and whether those angry tweeters, for example, get mad but let their binge continue uninterrupted. Or if they see the ad test and cut their binge off early — and maybe even cancel their subscription.
There’s also a way to get around this whole thing entirely, to avoid seeing these, cough, video promos if you don’t want to.
You need to log in to Netflix on either a desktop or a tablet. Go to your profile and choose “Account” from the drop-down menu, then scroll over to “Settings.” You’ll then be given an option to click “Test Participation.” If you don’t want to be included in any of the testing Netflix is doing around these promos, slide the button to the off position and then tap “Done.” That should take care of it.
Netflix, we should add, is going to be pretty aggressive this year on the advertising front, according to a CNBC report which says the company will shell out $2 billion on marketing this year.
“For its part,” CNBC notes, “Netflix views its ad testing as an extension of its goal to personalize TV and film recommendations for its users. The company noted that it has introduced other features aimed at helping its users discover new content to watch on the service. ‘A couple of years ago, we introduced video previews to the TV experience, because we saw that it significantly cut the time members spend browsing and helped them find something they would enjoy watching even faster,’ a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC on Monday.”