Since the dawn of time (or, more specifically, the Upfront), the futures of the automotive and media industries have been intertwined. As our viewers have changed the way they consume content, and car buyers have changed the way they make purchasing decisions, both industries have embarked on parallel transformations, building new technologies to reflect the needs of ever-changing consumers.
After spending 25 years in the auto industry – as an executive agency leader, President of Global Business Operations, and now as Senior Vice President of Client Partnerships at NBCU – I’ve witnessed several shifts in the industry over the years, but this latest one presents a true challenge for automakers: consumers are demanding more frictionless, personalized journeys, yet automakers still need an ad strategy that will bolster their bottom lines and move cars off lots. And there might never be a better opportunity to do so. Although many companies are contending with microchip shortages right now, demand for automobiles looks like it will remain high for the foreseeable future.
And so, just like automakers are shifting their strategies to satisfy consumer expectations, NBCUniversal is investing in the insights, innovations, and tools to help you drive impact.
Driving Awareness: Matching Breakout Technologies with Breakout Moments
While most automakers are already recognizable brands, our partners are facing a new kind of challenge – driving awareness, and adoption, of their electric vehicle. Not only do they have to launch revolutionary new models – they also have to re-introduce themselves to consumers. And many of our partners are finding that traditional tactics such as auto shows and mass media campaigns are either not available or not enough to stand out in a crowded space. Traditional selling might work for traditional vehicles, but to debut breakthrough technologies, automakers need breakthrough moments.
That’s why NBCU has developed actionable insights that help our brand partners reach their audience in a memorable way. And these insights, combined with our creative resources and commercial innovations, allow us to continually create novel activations and first-to-market solutions. For instance, we recently helped Ford spotlight its highly anticipated Ford F-150 EV Lightning Reveal Livestream through a custom “Live Ad”, starring Jimmy Fallon, during Primetime across our entire portfolio for the first time ever. Later, this was followed up with an engaging in-show moment on the Tonight Show highlighting key features of the new truck. All of this content was amplified by social posts in the hours and days to come. Together with Ford, we leveraged the NBCUniversal platform to complement their reveal and create a much bigger stage – broadening audience beyond traditional automotive and business press to reach millions of potential buyers.
The race to electrification is competitive, but the right breakout moment can truly create an opportunity to break out from the pack.
Driving Consideration: Creating a Show Room in your Living Room
At the same time, we know it’s not just about breaking through; automakers are also looking to build trusted relationships with potential buyers and guide them on their decision-making journey. That requires more than simply reaching consumers, but connecting them to your product in a personalized, modern way. In the past, automakers had to hope buyers would show up at a dealership after seeing an ad. But today, with advanced targeting and innovative ad technologies, brands have more opportunities to engage with consumers.
This is why it’s critical for brands to partner with media companies that can deploy creative resources, new technology, and trusted talent to create the kind of immersive experiences that supplement – or even substitute – the traditional showroom. At NBCU, we’re building new commercial innovations like @homeShopping, which uses AR-driven technology to bring product tours led by NBCU stars right to viewers’ homes. Using this innovation, automakers can create a virtual showroom for audiences, and give potential consumers a convenient and engaging way to explore the latest model. By leveraging the combination of new technology and NBCUniversal talent, we’re able to amplify the power of both.
Driving Impact: Collapsing the Purchase Funnel and Measuring Results
It’s also important to put consumers in the driver’s seat. Brands have to give them not just a call to action – but a road to action, too. A new, digitally savvy generation is forever changing the consumer experience, and that includes the car-buying experience. Not only are 2 out of 3 buyers likely to buy vehicles 100% online – but a full 26% of consumers envision a future where they can buy a car on Instagram. Consumers have spoken, and they want to be able to purchase their vehicle seamlessly – from their device directly to their driveways. It’s easy to imagine the next generation of @homeShopping – or other shoppable innovations – bringing audiences even closer to auto purchases.
Of course, at the end of the day, no matter how sophisticated a brand’s strategy is, what matters is whether it’s getting results. That’s why, for the last 2 years, NBCU has been building the Total Investment Impact Model, a proprietary ROI measurement tool designed to tell our client partners the impact of every dollar they spend with NBCU on their sales. This tool can demonstrate the effectiveness of a brands’ investment across our entire platform – ensuring they get even more mileage out of their campaigns. In fact, using insights from our Total Investment Impact Model, we’ve already found that NBCU is 2.4 times more effective in driving auto sales than competitors – and streaming packs even more of a punch. All in all, 40% of vehicle sales attributed to TV were driven by NBCU, with only 21% of the impressions.
At NBCU, we’ve been investing for years in stories, resources, and technologies that help us better connect with our consumers and help our client partners deliver on their objectives. We’re deeply committed to delivering a superior viewing experience that reflects consumer habits, makes meaningful connections and moves people to action. Now, we’re excited to bring that innovative mindset to automakers everywhere.
Like the fall TV season and the new model year, the media and automobile industries have always been innovating together. Now, we’ve harnessed the technology, the talent, and the trust of consumers to take that relationship to the next level. Together, we’re paving the way for a new generation of automotive advertising, and creating an experience that’s specific to consumers where they are – and where they’re going.