- NBC Universal partnered with STX Films to guarantee that commercials running on its TV networks would drive sales for the film distributor, Ad Age reported. The deal revolved around the campaign for the "The Upside," with Horizon handling the campaign's media buying.
- NBC Universal will introduce a new attribution product in the coming weeks and plans to measure consumer outcomes for the campaign through the online ticketing site Fandango. The company will also work with STX Films on the upcoming release of its movie "Ugly Dolls."
- Other networks, including A&E, AMC and Discovery, have piloted similar attribution models for TV, but few have been focused on tracking sales. This is the first time NBC Universal has made such a commitment, per Ad Age.
NBC Universal's deal with STX Films shows another big media company attempting to make its TV advertising more addressable in an increasingly digital-focused industry. The trend comes as cord-cutting continues to rise but networks also continue to command high rates for commercial airtime, meaning there's growing pressure to prove that there's still greater value in TV advertising.
Other networks have experimented with similar solutions. Turner and Chipotle partnered on an ad deal last fall that was tied to a guaranteed sales lift for the fast-casual Mexican chain. The brand's "For Real" campaign was optimized and targeted across Turner networks, with ads served in programs based on what best fit potential Chipotle customers. Turner also called for the industry to adopt data-driven practices at its 2018 upfront, which drove a five-fold increase in its ad commitments for audience targeting.
Marketers have signaled interest in continuing to invest in channels like linear TV, but are more often vying for innovation as broad, demographic-based targeting continues to fall out of favor in some corridors. Fifty-one percent of surveyed marketers still list TV as the most important traditional advertising channel, and 30% said it was "extremely" important to their strategies, according to Nielsen research.
Measuring ROI across digital and TV has been an ongoing struggle for marketers, however, with only 23% saying they were "highly confident" in their ability to track effectiveness in traditional channels, per Nielsen. Networks offering stronger results-driven outcomes and partnering with third-party digital partners that carry valuable transaction data, like Fandango, has the potential to lure more advertisers, who are seeking to boost brand awareness and ad recall and drive business.
NBC Universal has invested more heavily into technology elsewhere as well. Last year, it announced plans to launch an artificial intelligence-powered tool to scan TV show scripts and match advertisers to the show's content, resulting in a 60-second "prime pod" running during the first or last ad break of a show and available to up to two advertisers. The company has also reduced the number of ads running on its networks during primetime and debuted new ad formats, like social commercials and a picture-in-picture format.