LAS VEGAS—Two years ago, NBCUniversal began to gauge viewers’ emotional states to create better audience segmentations. Now it’s using artificial intelligence that places the most appropriate ads within the most appropriate scenes within its shows.
Its goal is to “evolve the consumer experience of watching live, primetime television into a better experience because we know that they have an immense amount of options to be able to watch television,” says Mark Marshall, NBCU’s President of Advertising & Client Partnerships.
Along the way, NBCU has trimmed ad loads to evolve the consumer experience. The days of 42 minutes of content and 18 minutes of interruption “are going to have to be behind us if we want to continue to make this ad sales ecosystem continue to be healthy,” Marshall adds in this interview with Beet.TV at CES 2019.
Reducing ad loads began two years ago when the company trimmed 35% from its digital properties. Last year NBCU said it had cut 10% out of its top 50 shows across eight networks.
In sports programming, it faces restrictions but “we’ve tried some different things,” says Marshall. One is during hockey games, “when a puck is iced and we have the transition before the next face-off of having a drop in-ad in that period of time. It’s in the flow of the sport, it’s not disruptive and it actually has performed very well for us.”
On the segmentation side, worked with an outside firm to create a tool called the “content code.” Starting in primetime, NBCU wanted to figure out not only why people were coming to its shows but what mood they were in when they were watching. “And then we layered on top of that what ads performed best within that. Putting the right tone of the right ad in the right show we saw the brand metrics jump.”
This year, it will continue to refine its artificial intelligence-informed optimization to target ads down to the scene level. “Our goal is to make to advertising as effective as possible. And we know that it does two things. It works for brand metrics and it also helps with retention, making sure people stay with it,” Marshall says.
Meanwhile, “challenger” brands like Peloton have added TV to their options “ and they talk in terms of how it really influenced their brand as soon as they went on television.”
This video is part of Beet.TV coverage of CES 2019. The series is sponsored by NBCUniversal. For more coverage, please visit this page.