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NBCUniversal's Three C's of Ad Strategy, Part 1: Consumers and Content

Learn more about streaming ad strategy at Streaming Media West 2022.

Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen: You talked about how everything you do revolves around consumers, content, customers/clients, and then competition. Could you go through those four Cs and talk about them in relation to where things stand today with PeacockTV and NBCUniversal.

Williams Roberts-Foster: We've always been a consumer-first company. So not necessarily that we're just following the consumer, we keep up with the trends, we're understanding what's going on. Where are people going? What are they looking for? What do they need? And making sure that our business is there, where they are because on the viewer side, where they are is we need to be where. Advertisers also want to be where the users are. So how do we make sure that that's together. We know it's so far panned out like an incredible investment. At this point, we've seen that probably about a third of our viewing is happening in streaming, and in the next 18 months or so, we really see probably around a half-and-half split of linear versus digital.

We knew that's where we needed to be. That's what we needed to be doing. When it came to thinking about it more holistically, we know that viewer are everywhere--they're on linear, they're on their phones, they're on social, even in the gaming space. They're in all these places, so we're saying, "All right, how do we show up in those areas and make sure that they're able to access the kind of stuff that they're interested in, the kind of stuff that they're engaged by in those spaces, and making sure that we're a part of that. And all of us know as marketers, we're trying to get to consumers. And then as consumers of the work that we do ourselves, we all viscerally feel it.

But when it comes to Peacock and how we think about it from that perspective, the consumer is the anchor in just understanding who they are, how do they function? What are they interested in? What do they need, what do they want, what do they not want? And when you think about them on the platform itself, it's, "How can we use advertising and engagement with advertisers to either complement behaviors that they're already doing on our platform." So you're like, "Oh, users are doing this, this, and this. So how about we try to create something that works with that, something that can potentially incentivize certain behaviors?” So, say, something like our Binge Ad. We know we want users binging. So how do we incentivize that create an ad unit that gives them some value and makes them want to keep doing that?

Specifically, just digging into a little bit of the details of the Binge Ad--at the third episode, if you are watching straight through, you've gone through your first two episodes, by the time you get to your third one, we say, "Hey, this one is gonna be ad-free, thanks to whoever the advertiser is."

Or, how do we use advertising to potentially deter behaviors? Are there things that people are doing on the platform that we don't quite care for? First let's take a beat and understand why is that happening? Everybody who works with me knows I'm always the one that asked "Why?" A million times--like, let's, let's get to the crux of it. Why is this happening? But then is there a way for us to leverage advertising in order to maybe deter that behavior to get them to do something that maybe we think could be more advantageous for them, or can help us make the platform better, but then give them a different and better experience.

So that's the first C: the consumer, really anchoring on their behaviors and what's going on there.

The second C is content, which is important. Why are users there? They're there for the content. And so with the content, because we have such a wide variety of it on platform, you have your live events, you have your library fan-favorite comfort shows. You have those brand new series, like Bel Air. I'm sure we got some Bel Air fans in the room. You have your sports, both live and replays of things like that. So with that one, it's really more about--back to the consumer--understanding what is the viewer's state when they're watching certain things. Think about it: A viewer or a fan of a show is in a different mind state if they're watching the brand new Minions movie. That's a particular mind state. You're coming to the platform in a particular way, and your viewing experience is probably going to be a particular thing.

That's very different than if you're coming and watching a Premier League final. It's an entirely different experience than if you're binging Murder, She Wrote at 2 in the morning, 'cause that's just something that you love. That's also a different viewing state. So being mindful of the kinds of content and the kinds of experiences that people will curate for themselves around that content is important. So when we think about innovations on the platform for advertisers and marketers, we're thinking about, how do we bring them into that particular experience, kind of expecting what the user is interested in at that moment, and how we can make that experience the best that it could be? You may not want to get as interrupted as much if you're watching Marry Me when it just came out yesterday. Who wants those pods happening in the middle of that kind of film?

So that's where we come in with what we call our Cinematic Trailer model, and give you that three minutes of ads up front. But the movie won't be interrupted. For sports, now we're experimenting with thinking about something like a frame app where you're watching your sport, even a live event, and you don't wanna get taken away from that, and we essentially frame that by bringing in an advertiser's message right next to it. You're not taken away from what you're looking at. And then how do we make sure that that's complementary, it's not just someone trying to talk to you or talk at you? We've all been used to for so many decades at this point. But how can we make that a complementary experience and enhance it, make it something that you weren't originally potentially getting on the linear side? So that's the content side--being mindful of what different content brings to each different viewing state.

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