Four years ago, as some media companies were pushing advertisers out, NBCUniversal wanted marketers to have a seat the table. We knew that great content and great advertising could live together, and that great ads are enjoyable, beloved by viewers—even iconic. We all remember Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” tagline, Apple’s dystopian 1984 ad, and that time people couldn’t stop saying “Wasssup,” thanks to a catchy Budweiser spot.
We all have endless options and distractions. And every day my team builds new ways for brands to connect with our viewers. We’ve laid out a vision to reimagine the content and commercial experience by combining both the power of great storytelling and technology. For four years, we built upon this commitment, harnessing the full might of NBCU’s innovative formats, creative content, and commerce technology. And it worked: Our research shows the following:
- Greater Viewer
- Less Likely to
- Change the Channel
- Better Brand
While our journey is still ongoing—and our newest suite of innovations are a testament to our continued commitment—we’ve learned a few key lessons along the way:
Takeaway #1: Great Innovations Require Great Creative Resources
The keys to challenging legacy thinking and reimagining the future are, first and foremost, investing in creative resources and building a culture of innovation. And that’s something we’ve done at NBCU over the course of many years. At NBCU, our innovations build off the strength of our immersive stories. Whether we’re creating a shoppable moment on the TODAY Show, weaving in a brand’s graphics during the week’s biggest sporting event, or collaborating with one of our
late-night personalities to spotlight a product—having one of the biggest collections of content and talent on the planet is necessary for reaching the right audience with the right message.
Furthermore, for brands looking to strengthen a movement or start a conversation, it’s critical they have access to both the platforms where their consumers hang out, and the creative resources needed to create longer-form content on these platforms—which is a service we offer at NBCU. This is especially important now, with 90% of global consumers believing brands should respond to current events. Ultimately, storytelling and storytellers are still the beating heart of innovation.
Takeaway #2: Innovation Builds on a Deep Understanding of Viewers
At NBCU, we pride ourselves on our knowledge of audiences, and this understanding guides every decision we make, particularly when it comes to our innovations. We’re always asking ourselves: What are consumers telling us? And how can we use those insights to better serve our audience?
For instance, we know that in today’s landscape, audiences are used to having control over their media,
and an abundance of choices. So, we created an ad format in response to that insight. Choose Your Destiny, as we named it, puts audiences in the driver’s seat, allowing them to decide which installment of a brand’s creative they see next. And not surprisingly, these ads achieved more memorability with viewers. This is just one example, but the principle is the same: By seeing our innovations through a viewer-first lens, we’re able to forge deeper connections between brands and their consumers.
Takeaway #3: Partnership Propels Us Forward
When it comes to deploying premium content and commercial innovations, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t enough. After all, brands have different needs and different KPIs. To maximize their impact, they need partnerships built on trust. It’s why our team members aren’t just creatives or salespeople; we’re also consultants. We collaborate with our clients and customize solutions that leverage the right innovations and touchpoints to achieve strong results.
For example, when brands want to collapse their purchase funnel and drive more conversions, we can feature their product using our @homeShopping innovation. When they want higher favorability, we can create in-show moments that spotlight their creative within fan-favorite programs. Our goal isn’t just to get brands to use our innovations; it’s to make sure they use them effectively, so they can reach their goals and build trust among their consumers.
Four years ago, when we envisioned a new, improved ad ecosystem, we bet that content and commercial innovations could change advertising for the better, giving marketers the ability to forge authentic connections. Now, thanks to our deep understanding of viewers, vast library of content, and commitment to partnerships built on trust—we’re seeing that future take shape. And for brands seeking a greater impact, there is no better time to be a part of it.