Five years ago, our team at NBCU had an “aha” moment. Technology was evolving and we saw an opportunity to reimagine the commercial experience for advertisers and viewers alike. So, we leveraged every tool we had—content, format, technology, IP—and devised new, authentic ways to amplify creative and help brands engage viewers.
The results speak for themselves: our innovations make people 88 percent more likely to remember the brand and 79 percent less likely to change the channel. And in the pivotal 18-34 demographic, we’ve experienced double-digit increase in memorability for our innovative ad formats, fostering a deeper connection between younger audiences, our content, and brands.
Now, after five years, 62 commercial innovations, and endless tests and learning, we’re sharing our most important findings.
1. Approach every innovation with an impact mindset
Every step of the way, our commercial innovations are informed by data. From the testing phase on, we use data to determine what innovations to deploy—and how we can improve them even further.
In fact, many of our current innovations evolved from previous iterations. For example, our Contextual Intelligence technology uses AI to scan scripts, so marketers can align their ads with relevant in-show moments. It led us to an important realization: if Contextual Intelligence can tell us when an episode’s content is right for a specific ad, it can also tell us when it’s wrong. So, we began using our AI to scan for brand suitability. Now, we direct brands to specific episodes that align with their values, while steering them away from content that doesn’t.
Our innovations also generate vital data for advertisers. For instance, The Harmonizer gives brands comprehensive insights into viewers’ streaming behavior on Peacock, so they can tailor their messaging to audiences’ viewing preferences. So while our commercial innovations are no doubt the product of creativity, they are also carefully calibrated to generate the biggest possible impact for advertisers.
2. Engage consumers by listening to them
Consumer behavior is the inspiration behind so much of what we do. We’re perpetually asking ourselves: “What are consumers telling us?” and “How can we use that intel to make their experience even more engaging?” Of course, in a world where technology is evolving faster than ever, we have to pay extra attention to emerging consumer trends.
Take our commerce innovations. The explosion in mobile commerce was the impetus behind our ShoppableTV innovation, which enables a seamless mobile shopping experience for consumers within our content, and new business opportunities for any retailer, local-to-global. And after seeing how livestream shopping gained popularity in Asia, we recently debuted it on our platform, with a commitment to continue to grow and evolve the experience for everyone.
Ultimately, by embracing the world our consumers have created, we can create innovations that meet them where they are—and engage them like never before.
3. Collaborate at every stage
Our iconic content, talent, and IP form the heart of our innovations. Nothing spurs consumers to action quite like their favorite celebrities, characters and storylines. That’s why we’ve created a more collaborative and seamless process for brands that want to leverage our creative assets.
First, our creative partnerships team meets directly with our showrunners, to make sure that the ad formats and products we develop will enhance the content experience. Then, our team makes these opportunities, along with their creative expertise, available to advertisers. We stay in constant contact with brands to ensure they’re using the right innovations to meet their business goals and keep a pulse on audience engagement and reaction to our innovations.
By making our creative resources more accessible—and making it easier to work with us—we’re able to help more brands produce spots that are as compelling, authentic, and as engaging as the shows themselves.
4. Add meaning and value to the viewing experience
A big part of enhancing the viewer experience has been understanding how and when to add meaning for audiences and value for advertisers.
As consumers, we all know the feeling of binging our favorite series, only to see the same ad 10 times in a row. We also know what it’s like to frantically search the web for our favorite red-carpet looks in the hopes of replicating them. That’s why we have innovations for all scenarios: While ShoppableTV can add another dimension to the viewing experience, our more minimalistic innovations are better suited for binge sessions or big sporting events. For instance, Picture-and-Picture turns the sound down on our content, while brand creative plays alongside it. Meanwhile, Solo ads limit advertising to one spot within an episode—giving viewers an uninterrupted experience and brands an uncluttered environment.
With our breadth of innovations and keen understanding of what audiences want, we’re able to help brands engage consumers by enriching the viewing experience—even when it means doing more by doing less.
5. Immersive experiences are the future
In addition to rewarding viewers with more content, we’re focused on giving them richer experiences that bring our content to life. With the rise of augmented reality and the metaverse, the future of viewing will be more immersive. This represents a huge opportunity for brands to think outside the 30-second ad spot.
We’ve already done this with innovations like the Bravo Bazaar, which lets viewers shop in the metaverse within show-themed rooms. At Coachella, we worked with Absolut to bring one of E!’s favorite hosts into Absolut.land, a metaverse experience where festival goers can meet and bond over their shared love of festival culture through virtual drinks, experiences and more. And now, with our AR Portal, we’re bringing even more of our programming universe into the metaverse – whether we’re giving viewers a deeper look into what’s cooking in the Top Chef kitchen, or an exclusive 360-degree view of the Thanksgiving Day parade and much more.
Embracing immersive experiences like these is critical because we’re approaching a whole new era of the internet. Web3 promises to unlock the possibilities of the metaverse, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and, along with them, incredible opportunities for advertisers that, when done well bring consumers closer to the content they love, with the brand as the bridge.
For five years, NBCUniversal has evolved and extended its commitment to Commercial Innovation. And while we’ve learned so much, and driven impact for brands in every industry – we know that this is only the beginning. There’s no telling where technology will take us in the next five years, but you can be sure that we’ll continue learning, innovating, and delivering a pristine advertising experience for marketers and audiences alike. Afterall, at NBCUniversal the advertising experience is the user experience.