Netflix's Viral Billboard Highlights OOH Opportunity for Brands

It’s not every day that a billboard goes viral, but over the weekend, a 3D billboard for Netflix’s new “Resident Evil” series blew up on social media. The billboard, which features a disturbingly entertaining “licker” from the series, was installed in NYC’s Times Square a few days before the season 1 premiere on July 14.

Although the billboard has been described as “terrifying” by some, there’s no denying that it’s been effective. It has got people talking about the new series, regardless if they’re interested in watching it.

Netflix isn’t new to engaging and elaborate billboard marketing. It seems to have been updating its Los Angeles-based billboard for the hit show “Stranger Things” with fun sayings to get fans excited for the show at various stages throughout the series.

This video, which was posted on YouTube in February, teases the launch of Volumes 1 and 2 of the fourth season, which both premiered this year. A recent update to the billboard plays off of the status of one of the characters after the the first volume left their status in question.

Netflix is known for creating eye-catching billboards to market its shows. In fact, multiple Netflix campaigns were named 2022 Finalists in the annual OBIE Awards, which honors creative excellence in out of home (OOH) advertising.

Netflix “Army of the Dead” Specialty Barricades & Specialty Bulletins. | Credit: OBIE Awards

Netflix “Jupiter’s Legacy” Dimensional OOH. | Credit: OBIE Awards

Netflix / The Witcher. | Credit: OBIE Awards

And while it’s obvious that Netflix absolutely nails its show marketing, it should come as no surprise that it uses billboards so heavily. It’s proven that OOH advertising is effective.

According to a recent Harris poll report, “OOH Media Opportunities: Consumer Insights and Intent – Early 2022”:

57% of consumers have engaged with an OOH ad in some way, whether it’s visiting the advertiser’s website (43%), searching for more information about the advertiser or their products (39%), or made a physical purchase (39%). Engagement is especially high in large urban areas in which (77%) of consumers have engaged with an OOH ad.

With 77% of consumers engaging with OOH advertising in large urban areas, Netflix is making a calculated choice to spend some of its advertising budget on this medium. It’s a medium that presents a large opportunity for brands looking to make a large impact. A report from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and Comscore — “Consumer Insights: OOH and Online Activation: Advertising, Action, and Ad Spend” — revealed that OOH ads accounted for nearly a quarter (20.1%) of the gross website visits across six platforms (OOH, television, video ads, display, radio, and print), but that it only accounted for 4.1% ($7.35 billion) of total ad spend. TV and video ads account for 68% of advertising dollars spent, yet these platforms generate a similar share of action across the various online actions detailed in the report. It went on to say, “The data suggest that based on these metrics, OOH advertising delivers exceptional value compared to other mediums.”

Additionally, with recent privacy updates — such as Apple’s privacy changes that have spurred brands and marketers to consider other marketing channels, including direct mail — signage presents a solution to reach consumers and make a lasting impact.