Netflix Goes After Ad Block Users With Targeted Scares And Renders Ad Blockers An Even Worse Idea

Netflix is not exactly known for its ability to terrify users, but it is currently advertising a new show, Black Mirror, in a deliciously creepy way. According to Engadget, Netflix is targeting computers using ad blockers by replacing the ads with very scary promos for the new Netflix show Black Mirror.

Black Mirror did not start out as a Netflix show. It was originally a British sci-fi anthology series reminiscent of a modern-day Twilight Zone. Each episode presents viewers with a new world in which some futuristic technology causes an intriguing story to unfold. Earlier this year, after Black Mirror had been broadcast for two seasons, Netflix decided to buy the rights to the show and make it a Netflix exclusive. Earlier this week, the show’s third season, which consists of six lengthy episodes, was released. The first two seasons are also available on Netflix.

Black Mirror has been developing a cult following since it debuted in 2011, and that process sped up significantly when it was picked up by Netflix. Despite that fact, though, a good amount of people do not know about Netflix’s critically acclaimed dystopian potpourri. Netflix wanted to remedy this problem by putting out some teasers for the show. Netflix isn’t No. 15 on Forbes’ “most innovative companies in the world” list for nothing, though, and it wanted to advertise Black Mirror in a way that was fresh and interesting to all internet users, Netflix subscribers or not.

To do this, Netflix took advantage of ad blockers. Netflix chose to fill the blank spaces where the blocked ads would be with intentionally scary promos for Black Mirror, complete with creepy accompanying messages. This serves several purposes. First, it advertises Netflix and the show. Secondly, it draws attention more effectively than a run-of-the-mill TV show teaser would. Thirdly, and most importantly, Netflix shows users with the audacity to circumvent the rules with tools like ad blockers that their insolence will not go unnoticed or unpunished.

“Hello ad block user,” reads the text accompanying one of Netflix’s promos. “You cannot see the ad. But the ad can see you. What’s on the other side of your black mirror?”

If that’s not a case of technology becoming way too intimate, we don’t know what is.

Netflix’s targeted ads are unsettling not only because of what they depict but also because they act as a reminder of just how much information every website one visits can gather about their computer without them knowing. Refinery 29 muses that the idea Netflix’s adds put forth of computers gaining too much control with the ads is a good parallel to the central theme of Black Mirror, which it calls “techno-paranoia.”

You may be wondering how Netflix can show ads for Black Mirror to those that are blocking ads in the first place. The answer is that ad blocking companies are selling out and actually selling their own ad space. Essentially, this means that they are hiding the normal ads and replacing them with ads from companies that pay them enough money, including Netflix. Mashable reports that this phenomenon, which has only become prevalent quite recently, is responsible for starting a war between ad blocker companies and firms that operate on traditional internet advertising income.

In case you have not picked up on it by now, Netflix’s “covert” advertisements will not be showing up on Netflix itself, as it is a paid and ad-free service. They will appear almost exclusively on sites that, unlike Netflix, are free and ad-supported. So if the whole “intentionally creepy Netflix ads being shoved in your face” thing was not enough to persuade you that disabling ad block is not a good idea, maybe this is: the only thing ad blockers accomplish other than shutting down few sidelined visuals is keeping sites that don’t charge their users from being able to support themselves. In other words, sites that can offer content for free because they are supported by ads will eventually need to start charging users like Netflix if all of the ads are blocked. Either that or pay to rent out ad space that takes the place of their own blocked ads, also like Netflix. In which case, why install an ad blocker in the first place?

[Featured Image by Mikkelwilliam/iStock]