Netflix Found a Slightly Creepy but Clever Way to Reach Viewers Who Use Ad Blockers

Will the stunt get other brands on board?

Netflix knows that you use an ad blocker, but it wants to serve ads to you regardless. To promote the third season of Black Mirror—a dark British fiction show that explores how technology often goes awry—the streaming service is running display ads with slightly creepy copy to win over viewers who use ad blockers.

"Hello ad blocker user. You cannot see the ad. But the ad can see you," reads the copy. "What's on the other side of your Black Mirror?"

Big banner ads calling out ad blockers are running on technology website The Next Web as well as Mashable. Clicking on the post directs users to Netflix.com, where they can log in and start watching the show.

Netflix didn't immediately respond to a query about what other sites the campaign is running on, but the brand is likely getting its biggest reach in targeting tech and gaming sites, which attract large numbers of male readers who download ad-blocking software. According to an IAB report in July, 26 percent of desktop consumers block ads, with 32 percent of those folks being males between 18 and 34 years old. Women in the same age group made up 22 percent of ad blockers.

While a number of publishers have experimented with clever ways to work around ad blockers with pop-up messages or whitelisting, brands have been a bit more hesitant to embrace ad blockers. In September, popular ad blocker AdBlock Plus launched a marketplace that will let brands serve ads to folks who have an ad blocker turned on, but it's unclear if any brands have signed on to the program. The risks of annoying someone who has deliberately chosen to not see an ad are high, but those consumers are also an attractive audience for brands like Netflix that have shows that appeal to ad blockers.

Netflix's stunt could open up more creatives to find opportunities in ad blockers, too, much like how brands such as Hotels.com and Geico have created hacks around Facebook's autoplay video and pre-roll skipping.