Too often, the dynamics of our industry are characterized as a zero-sum game, with the media companies filming in Hollywood or pitching on Madison Avenue, while the tech companies sit in Silicon Valley, amassing data. It’s an oversimplified and outdated narrative about the race for eyeballs. In fact, it’s collaboration and partnership that will shape the future.
However, that’s not always been the case. For decades, media companies were built around exclusivity, asking audiences to show up in one place at one time for the best content – creating narrow operating lanes. Meanwhile, digital platforms grew by relying on user-generated content, sometimes a risky business.
But now, as consumer expectations and viewing patterns change, businesses are shifting to models built on partnership. Audiences crave quality storytelling on every screen – making platform exclusivity impractical and even undesirable. It’s why tech giants are producing award-winning content, as content legends ramp up investments in data and rethink distribution relationships. Both sides know that to excel in one arena, you must invest in the other. So, to best serve audiences and advertisers, we need to also look outside our organizations.
At NBCU, we’re doing this every day. Recently, our teams mapped a plan for the future of work with Salesforce, launched new commerce products with Instagram, and ideated with every social platform about transforming the Olympic experience with new connected ecosystems. Today, we’re introducing programs to help military communities, and next week we’ll host the first Measurement Innovation Forum with brands, trade bodies, and media holding companies.
What connects all of this? Partnership. It’s how we can amplify everything we do to transform this industry. Because only partnership companies will be equipped to adapt and innovate quickly, and drive change for the entire ad-supported industry.
But what makes an organization a partnership company?
As we see it, a partnership company goes beyond the transactional to achieve the transformational. It has the courage to explore collaboration, even with the so-called “competition.” And it can’t be an afterthought. To future-proof our companies, build trust, accelerate innovation and multiply impact, partnerships must be proactive. So, in this interconnected ecosystem, where we are all each other’s viewers and users – it’s worth asking ourselves some questions, like:
- Are we open to conversations and spending 80 percent of our time focused on what’s right about a potential partnership?
- What risks are we prepared to take and what can we learn from imperfect partnerships?
- Are there ways to identify shared goals, and put ourselves on the same team solving the same problems?
Of course, there are more questions. But these can help us start to define a vision and commitment to partnership and shift our mindsets towards collaboration. Because with that mindset, we’ll uncover new opportunities across the entire consumer and advertiser journey. For NBCU, that’s meant creating engaging stories or experiences with partners like Apple News, Holler, Snap, TikTok, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube, reimagining CTV with partners like Freewheel, Mediaocean or the Trade Desk, and strengthening our offerings with Adobe and other companies. It’s also meant working with the industry to develop new measurement tools to understand impact and viewership.
Ultimately, the shift towards partnership is about more than new capabilities or relationships – it can help our industry thrive today and create more constructive relationships for tomorrow. That’s why partnership needs to be a meaningful part of our entire industry’s transformation playbook.
Here’s #OurPartnershipCommitment; NBCU will stay open to building more partnerships intentionally and never reject (or accept) any automatically. What’s yours?