Netflix executives must have known they struck gold when U.S President Barack Obama made his first Twitter reference to their original television series House of Cards back in 2014.
It no doubt confirmed everything they suspected about how the political thriller, now in its 4th season, would gain unparalleled popularity.
Yet what’s most interesting about the Emmy award-winning House of Cards isn’t that it was referenced by arguably the most busy person in America, but the extent to which the show has become one of the most successful marketing experiments in Netflix’s history.
House of Cards was the very first Netflix show that the streaming service used as a sort of Big Data analytics testing ground, dumping over $100 million into the show without even seeing a pilot. That money amounted to one-third of the $300 million annual budget for original shows. Yet Netflix executives weren’t hedging their bets. They were confident the show would be a hit.
Netflix’s robust analytics showed them everything they needed to know about how much viewers loved actor Kevin Spacey, the British version of House of Cards, and director/producer David Fincher — who was well-known for his work in The Social Network. Those three pieces of data made them certain the show would be a home run.
Fast forward to 2016 and there is new evidence that House of Cards is continuing to be a leader in the marketing world. Brands are spending anywhere from $50,000-$300,000 to get a product placement on the show.
It was recently announced that OnePlus, a relatively unknown Chinese smartphone company, paid $300,000 to get its smartphones strategically placed in the 4th season of House of Cards.
Sony Playstations and Apple iPhones are just a couple examples of products featured in the show, though Netflix has not publicly announced an official advertising deal. And just last year, a Belgium beer company struck a deal to casually insert its brew in the show.
While product placement in television shows is nothing new, House of Cards’ liberal use of the marketing tactic over the past few years has been refreshing, not to mention it is a tactic backed up by Big Data.
Data shows that product placement, now outpacing traditional commercial advertising, is a better way to reach viewers because it allows for uninterrupted screen time. Its soaring popularity as form of television advertising can been seen by market projections, which anticipate that globally the money spent on product placement will double by 2017.
So, what does all of this prove about House of Cards and its booming success?
There is no question that Big Data marketing has been the driving force behind the show’s popularity. Powerful analytics were used to inform Netflix’s decision to buy the show, and now frequent product placements demonstrate just how much brands want a piece of the Frank Underwood pie.
We congratulate Netflix. House of Cards has been their most successful marketing experiment to date.