Phil Norris

Contributing Writer |

6 min read

Netflix vs Amazon: The display ad battle for our streaming bucks

In a world where 95 percent of Americans pay for more than one streaming service, it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t all hooked on video-on-demand (VoD).

But it hasn’t always been this way.

Netflix may not have been the world’s first streaming company, but it was certainly the platform that brought the business model to the mass market. Yet for the first decade of its existence, the company didn’t even do streaming — it was a mail order DVD service.

Everything changed in 2007 with the launch of Watch Now, Netflix’s VoD service, which opened the door for exponential revenue and subscriber growth.

Of course, Netflix no longer has the market to itself. Not even close. 

It’s currently locked in a battle with Amazon Prime Video to be the biggest streaming platform in the US, while the likes of Max, Disney+, and Hulu are snapping at their heels.

With the global VoD market expected to be worth $108+ billion in 2024, streaming providers are prepared to spend millions of dollars every year promoting their services via display advertising.

In today’s blog post, we’re going to deep-dive into the display ad strategies of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to demonstrate how you can use vastly different methods to promote the same type of product.

Let’s get into it…


Ad spend and networks

Adbeat’s estimated data shows that Netflix has spent $40 million on display ads in the US over the past six months, with the vast majority of its budget going to video ads.

That’s hardly surprising — it’s a video platform, after all.


Also unsurprising is Netflix’s decision to target publishers across the full breadth of the pop culture and entertainment spectrum, covering everything from books to celebrity gossip to gaming:

As you can see, the bulk of its YouTube spend goes toward the official channels of some of the world’s biggest pop stars…

…while six of its 10 top placement URLs with the Los Angeles Times are in the Entertainment & Arts category:



While Netflix started as a movie rental service, the platform is no longer seen as the go-to place to watch the latest box office smash hit. Instead, it prefers to invest in its own movies and shows — and this original content is the main focus of its standard ads:

In all those ads, the Netflix logo is even more prominent than the names of Steven Spielberg, Emily Blunt, and Chris Evans. These ads aren’t just about promoting content — they’re about the ability to watch that content on Netflix.


Netflix does a great job at making its native ads feel like the types of articles and features you might read on any pop culture website:

The visuals are eye-catching without being too promotional, while the headlines share useful information (like the name of the show) without giving too much away. Which, of course, makes you more likely to click.


Once you watch a couple Netflix video ads, you’ll recognize a clear pattern:

An opening shot featuring the name of the film or show; 10 – 15 seconds of dialog and dramatic-looking scenes; a couple seconds focusing on the “Only on Netflix” message; then a final screen featuring the familiar Netflix logo and “tuh-dum” sound effect.

It might not be super imaginative, but it’s definitely effective at promoting both the content and the streaming platform.

Landing pages

As far as we can tell, Netflix doesn’t build dedicated landing pages to support its display ad campaigns. Instead, it uses the standard “product” pages for the platform’s individual shows and movies. Still, these landing pages are actually highly effective at driving conversions.

Let’s look at an example for the Netflix original movie Pain Hustlers:

Unlike a lot of product pages, it strips back the noise by removing unnecessary navigation elements (like a menu bar at the top of the page), which discourages visitors from clicking away.

Plus there are two prominent call-to-action (CTA) buttons to “Join now”, so there’s no doubt what you’re meant to do next.

A lot of advertisers could learn from this uncluttered approach.


Netflix has one “business-as-usual” campaign that runs at various times throughout the year to promote the entire platform:

But it also launches regular campaigns to promote specific movies and shows that run for much shorter periods — some for a whole month, others for just a couple days:

This strategy enables Netflix to capitalize on spikes in interest around individual titles while still dedicating the bulk of its ad spend to the platform as a whole.

Amazon Prime Video

Ad spend and networks

Amazon is one of America’s biggest display advertisers, dropping an estimated $296 million on US ads in the last six months, with approximately three-quarters of its budget spent on video ads.

Of course, Amazon has fingers in a lot of pies. How much is it actually spending to promote its streaming platform? 

Adbeat lets us single out Amazon’s Prime Video campaign, which had an estimated $6.3 million budget over the last six months, skewed almost entirely toward video:


Amazon invests in a more diverse bunch of publishers than Netflix for its Prime Video campaign, including websites like Diario AS and El Pais that predominantly target Latin American audiences:

Looking at its YouTube spend, Amazon is also more prepared than Netflix to target niche channels (like gaming channel PrestonPlayz and country-pop singer Kelsea Ballerini):

This could suggest that Amazon’s display ad strategy is geared toward targeting a younger, and generally more online, audience than Netflix.



Compared to Netflix, Prime Video’s standard ad creatives are a real mixed bag.

Just among this small batch of creatives, we can see messaging geared toward:

  • Individual channels like Paramount+ and ViX Premium
  • Content curated for Latin American viewers
  • Original movies like Foe
  • Music-themed content like Taylor Swift’s Eras tour

It’s far removed from Netflix’s sole focus on original content. In fact, just one of those ads (the one for Foe) is promoting an Amazon Original movie or show — and the ad doesn’t even tell you that it’s an original.

Instead, Amazon prefers to showcase the sheer breadth of different content available on Prime Video, original or otherwise.


Amazon hasn’t run a single native ad for Prime Video in the last six months. Not even one. You have to go back to 2022 to find its most recent efforts:

It’s a pretty uninspiring bunch, and they’re all largely focused on cheap price promotions rather than the wealth of amazing content on Prime Video — again, a far cry from Netflix’s approach.

Given that Amazon has seemingly ditched its native ad strategy for Prime Video since then, it’s hard to believe these ads generated many subscribers who stuck around after the discounts expired.


Compared to Netflix, Amazon is far more willing to experiment when it comes to video advertising. Rather than churning out a bunch of 15 – 20 second videos focusing on individual shows and movies, it promotes a range of different narratives and messages.

Let’s take a look.

First up, you’ve got the classic cinematic teaser trailers, which typically run for 2.5+ minutes and promote a single piece of content:

The Prime logo is visible throughout these video ads, while the final 15 seconds are dedicated to a full screen of Prime branding, followed by CTAs to “Watch more” and “Subscribe”. These ads strike the perfect balance between showcasing a movie and promoting Prime Video.

Then there are the short, sharp 15-second ads rounding up the latest content available on the platform:

The strapline — “Catch up on hits you missed” — plays on our natural fear of missing out. It’s such an effective message because it’s essentially saying: Everyone else is talking about these shows and movies, and you don’t want to be the odd one out. So you’d better sign up to Prime Video before people notice.

And then there’s a whole other type of video ad, ranging from 30 – 60 seconds in length, that highlights the modern frustration of flicking between multiple different apps to find the content you’re searching for.

You might think that’s a weird message for a streaming platform to promote. But, of course, it pitches Prime Video as the solution:

Given that three-quarters of US households pay for more than two different streaming subscriptions every month, it’s easy to see why this ad would resonate with consumers.

Landing pages

Like Netflix, Amazon predominantly sends people who click its ads to “product” pages for individual movies and shows rather than dedicated landing pages.

For instance, here’s what you might see if you clicked through from an ad promoting the original movie Foe:

Only Amazon could get away with a landing page like that.

Between all those menu options, the prominent search bar at the top of the page, and the drop-down “Sign in” button, there are far too many distractions here. So many that it’s easy to miss the “More details” CTA button, which takes you to another page promoting a 30-day free trial of Prime Video.

Still, Amazon knows that pretty much everyone has already heard of Prime Video, so it doesn’t have to go for the big sell. Instead, it can afford to subtly highlight the huge amount of content it offers and leave visitors to convert themselves.


Prime Video is a “campaign” in itself, rather than a unique brand with its own sub-campaigns.

Still, we can see that Amazon takes a similar approach to Netflix by splitting its budget between two broad ad themes: ads for the platform as a whole, and ads promoting specific content.


Netflix and Amazon are selling the same product: on-demand video. But they do it in very different ways.

On one hand, Netflix has a clear value proposition centered on original content. It barely promotes non-original yet exclusive content like Seinfeld, likely because availability varies significantly from one region to the next. On the flip side, Amazon takes a real scattergun approach, highlighting everything from exclusive content to third-party movies and channels.

Ordinarily, we’d say Netflix’s single-minded focus is more coherent and effective. But Amazon has already demonstrated that it’s perfectly capable of dominating markets with a more generalist approach.

We’ll have to wait and see which strategy plays out best in the long run.

Want to access data like this yourself? You can with Adbeat! Request your live Adbeat demo here.

Phil Norris

Contributing Writer |