The Lost Days of Bird Box
The Lost Days of Bird Box

What Brands Can Take Away from 45,037,125 Viewers

The Lost Days of December, The Never-Ending and Glorious Sunday, the "What Day Is It Period,” choose your name for it, but the space between Christmas and New Year’s is a black hole for everyone. People aren't really sure what to do with themselves. Time with family needs a distraction from more time with family. People that have to work, are at most, half-working.

Inevitably we turn to entertainment. The selection of Oscar movies this year is largely a letdown, and the box office was off 12% from last year in the week that straddles Christmas.

What better time, then, for the largest content producer in the world to flex its muscle and show that the Super Bowl and NYE at Times Square have nothing on the Marquee Homepage Display on Netflix during the Lost Days of December when it comes to media placement.

This year at least 45,037,125 individuals spent at least 3.9 billion minutes consuming Netflix's biggest movie phenomena, Bird Box, between December 21 and December 28. Bird Box is a post-apocalyptic horror film starring Sandra Bullock (that is really just a knockoff of The Quiet Place) and boasts an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 62%.

Let's break down those numbers: 45 million Netflix accounts of its ~137 worldwide users watched Bird Box at least once during that 7-day period. That is nearly 33% of the accounts, and you must also consider that few people were likely watching it alone. Netflix defined what a "view" means or what a "view" of Bird Box means: watching at least 70% of the total run time including the credits. It's a 2 hour and 4 minute film, that means over 45 million people watched at least 86 minutes of it. In context, that viewership is equivalent to your brand accumulating 38 billion 6-second ads on Facebook. Just as a quick check, I surveyed my Dallas office to see how many people had watched; 32% had, in line with the larger trend.

Moreover, the internet did what the internet does best and started a viral meme machine around the movie that is showing no signs of slowing down, leaving those who hadn't watched feeling like they were the only ones. Which means the views are still coming in.

So this week as brands converge on Las Vegas for the 2019 CES, here are a couple of takeaways from 45,037,125 and how we need to think about brand storytelling in 2019:

  • It's time we stop reporting on vanity metrics like 2- or 3-second views when talking about brand storytelling content. If you care about creating value or influence with your audience, you need to be focused on the time you are capturing and obviously how you can turn that time into money. We have been rejecting this notion for several years and have been focused on deeper viewer engagement statistics. For us it has largely been 25%+ Completion Rates ("Engaged Views") and 95%+ Completion Rate ("Complete Views").
  • Going viral with your branded content is not a strategy. You are not Netflix, but you do have the opportunity to create unique influence for a niche audience that is currently underserved with content that relates to their life or career. Don't shoot for 45 million, but shoot for the people who really matter to your brand and who may have influence over the others.
  • Also, "if you build it, they will come" is more false than ever. Brands must work harder to gain the trust and influence for consumers to give their content a try. That means paid media campaigns, influencer efforts, data collection, retargeting and email blasts. Is it expensive to get people to want to spend time with you? Sure, but can you afford to not invest in building an audience? Can you afford to rely only on “renting” an audience you are interrupting every time you want to talk with them?
  • Lastly, never underestimate the power of storytelling and how it can impact culture. Some stories are better than others, sure, but there is also an abundance of stories not being told.

The impact of Netflix shouldn’t intimidate you, it should motivate you; it showcases how vital storytelling is. Unlike Netflix, which made limited (if any) new dollars off of Bird Box, your brand has the opportunity to use storytelling to truly grow revenue in products and services you sell. Capture engaged time with audiences and the wallet will follow.

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