NBCUniversal looks to the metaverse, QR codes and AR to increase brand engagement 

Media giant leans on shoppable ads to drive commerce for brands. 

NBCUniversal looks to the metaverse, QR codes and AR to increase brand engagement 

NBCUniversal is looking to the metaverse, augmented reality and QR codes to help brands better engage with consumers. 

“Let's use ‘Top Chef’ just to paint the picture here,” said Collette Winn, VP of strategy and operations for creative partnerships at NBCU. “‘Top Chef’ fans can scan [a code] and then be brought in portals into a ‘Top Chef’ kitchen, where they can feel as though they're there next to the chef in avatar format, and brands are woven intricately into that experience. When [we] think about the metaverse, we think about it from an NBCU point of view—which is with our IP, with our talent, and have it be meaningful. For brands, it's not a blip—it's really woven in as a true experience.”

The experience will utilize mobile AR. 

Other new offerings include retro ads, which lean into nostalgia and genre-driven marketing. “Annie Live!,” for example, featured a Wendy's commercial that aligned with the era of the musical. NBCU will continue to build out these opportunities, allowing brands to create custom content designed to reflect the time period of the show. 

NBCU has been aggressive in moving into shoppable advertising, and it continues to grow capabilities that help drive consumers from TV ads to a point of purchase, leaning on QR codes to do so. NBCU is bringing QR codes into picture-in-picture advertising and has a countdown clock, meant to build hype for new programming and premieres, that unlocks through QR codes. 

The media giant previously introduced “sequential storytelling”, which allows brands to target viewers with a multi-tiered marketing campaign that culminates with a prompt to purchase a product through a commerce-enabled ad. For someone watching travel content, for example, that might mean seeing an ad for a vacation package while watching “The Today Show,” then being served a more extensive teaser for that same product while binging from their tablet later that night—and then finally being served an ad to purchase the package. 

Additionally, NBCU will help connect brands with pop culture topics on social platforms to help marketers better align themselves with trending moments. 

NBCU also plans to use eye-tracking technology to allow brands to measure consumer attention to ads. It said it can measure the "physical dips and spikes in consumer attention," and brands can leverage that data to adjust their ad strategy for greater engagement.

Over the past few years, NBCU has introduced more than 60 forms of commercial innovations to the ad marketplace—though not all of those have stuck. 

“We've sunset some, but we've kept most that are working,” said Josh Feldman, global chief marketing officer at NBCUniversal in its advertising and partnerships division.

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