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The Goals

  • Promote the premiere of the new Narcos original series on Netflix.
  • Reach a global audience, with different interests and languages.

The Approach

  • Used DoubleClick Dynamic Creative to easily manage all their creative variations and languages and serve the ads to relevant segments around the world.
  • Used Google Web Designer to build engaging HTML5-based designs that run on any device and fit any screen.

The Results

  • Narcos was a major hit around the globe in the days after its release as fans binge-watched the first ten episodes.
  • Netflix renewed the show for a second season only a week later.


Published February 2016

The challenge

When Netflix launched its new series Narcos(1) in August of 2015, it faced a big global marketing challenge.

Narcos is a realistic look at the rise of the Cocaine Highway as told through the lives of legendary kingpin Pablo Escobar and the American DEA agents tracking him. It's a passionate story of crime, drugs, money, honor and politics, set in the late decades of the 20th century, with dialogue half in Spanish and half in English.

Netflix wanted to reach a global audience that included target groups like "thrill seekers" (men 25-34 drawn to the excitement of crime culture) and "conspiracy theorists" (older males fascinated by the political implications of drug trafficking). That meant Netflix and its digital agency, AvatarLabs, needed to bring the Narcos story to countries from Peru to Sweden with targeted messages that would appeal powerfully to different target viewers in each culture ― without overwhelming their budget or their marketing teams.

To make it happen, they turned to DoubleClick Dynamic Creative and Google Web Designer.

Hitting every target

Netflix wanted to use key audience insights to craft different strategies for each locale. In Colombia itself, viewers with "Escobar fatigue" would still be excited to see Colombian characters and local Medellín filming locations. American viewers love drama, so the creative strategy would play to that with dramatic "powder shots" of the drug itself. Brazilian viewers wanted to see Wagner Moura, the Brazilian superstar playing Escobar, so Netflix would bring his image to the forefront there.

Ad creative for US audience
Ad creative for Colombian audience
Ad creative for Brazilian audience
*All imagery courtesy of Gaumont International Television LLC and Netflix, Inc.

As Netflix looked for a solution that could help them accomplish this multi-pronged creative strategy on a global scale, the DoubleClick stack stood out, says Nicole Karon, Account Director for AvatarLabs. "We needed the ability to cycle through many choices of art, text and languages to personalize ads, so each of our territories could choose the story they wanted to tell," she says. "DoubleClick had the power and the flexibility we needed."

The AvatarLabs team began by developing the basic creative approaches, then used DoubleClick Dynamic Creative to build a template and flexible feed that would work across all territories. Every component of the ads would be dynamic, from text and artwork to video. Language and content had to be modified for each country. Even the graphical buttons needed to grow or shrink to fit the length of translated copy strings.

Flexible and dynamic

With the template in place, AvatarLabs used Google Web Designer to create the actual ad elements. The tool lets designers build engaging HTML5-based designs that run on any device and fit any screen. AvatarLabs’ designers could see how ads looked and get digital feedback right away within the tool, rather than having to deploy the ads first.

Google Web Designer integrates very tightly with DoubleClick Dynamic Creative and the DoubleClick Studio Asset Library. We don't end up with designers and developers working separately; all parts of the team and the project work together.

Nicole Karon, Account Director, AvatarLabs

DoubleClick helped Netflix find extra efficiencies on the back end and still meet all its campaign goals. "We knew from the start we would be using dynamic creative, and Google Web Designer integrates with it naturally," says Karon. "It all worked so smoothly. If we needed to make changes to the creative, it was easy to deploy it on the front end."  

That included programmatic mobile campaigns, which are increasingly important as video consumption surges on mobile devices. The DoubleClick stack also makes it easy to expand campaigns going forward, says Arnell Davis, marketing manager at Netflix. "It's a very robust framework, and it gives us the ability to adjust to new developments, like adding additional countries. For everything we do now we think about how it will scale six months down the road."

The results

The word got out: Narcos was a major hit around the globe in the days after its release as fans binge-watched the first ten episodes. Netflix renewed the show for a second season only a week later.

"This was a massive campaign, with a huge amount of deliverables, requests, and regional buy-ins. The DoubleClick tools were great, and we had great support from all of Google's teams,” says Karon. “We knew DoubleClick was the right place to start."

See the Narcos ads in action here.

1 Narcos can been seen exclusively on Netflix. 


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