Verizon Expands Sponsorship Of NBCU’s Macy’s Parade Coverage

Elements include 360-degree live stream, picture in picture and augmented reality

Verizon is expanding its multi-platform sponsorship of NBCUniversal’s broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

For a second year, Verizon will host a 360-degree livestream of the parade on its YouTube page that will give viewers a street-level view of the event. This year, the livestream will feature additional cameras, including on attached to the lead float in the parade. It will also have augmented reality aspects, with “Easter Eggs” that livestream viewers can discover that will give them addition information and offers.

On the broadcast, NBCU will use picture-in-picture in some commercial breaks—including breaks in which Verizon spots air—in order to keep people tuned in to parade coverage.

Members of the Verizon Up customer loyalty program will get a chance to win VIP access to the parade.

Verizon is also producing a 60-second video that will air during the parade broadcast thanking first responders who are giving up their holidays to keep people safe.

During the broadcast, the digital aspects of Verizon’s sponsorship will be promoted.

Mark Marshall, executive VP for entertainment advertising sales at NBCU, said last year’s collaboration with Verizon on the parade “exceeded all of our and our client’s expectations. It was a huge success.”

NBC pushes to develop new experiences for viewers, Marshall said, and last year’s parade’s ratings were up 14% in addition to generating big numbers on the live stream. Verizon says there were 1.3 million total views of last year’s 360 degree live stream.

“The ability to give parade-route level access and view to anyone across the U.S. was a great experience and definitely a great environment and platform that helped us breakthrough in a differentiated way with our holiday offers and messages,” said John Nitti, chief media officer at Verizon.

He declined to say how much Verizon is spending on the Thanksgiving sponsorship.

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While the 360-degree experience is open to all on Verizon’s YouTube page, Nitti says users of Verizon’s equipment and network will get an experience that’s superior.

“It’s an opportunity for us to leverage different technologies, such as augmented reality, to get our message across and have viewers engage,” he says, noting that last year, livestream viewer tuned in for an average of 7½ minutes.

Nitti says that for a marketer like Verizon, Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday is the Super Bowl of retailing. “Black Friday is one of our highest traffic days, both in-store and online.

As an NFL sponsor, Verizon will also have ads running in the afternoon during games, he says. The parade gives Verizon an additional “opportunity for us to reach families and folks as they’re preparing in the first half of the day and before football is live.”

Overall, Marshall said that NBCU’s parade coverage has more than a dozen new advertisers this year, and revenue will be up substantially year over year.”

“The parade comes the day before the biggest shopping day of the year and has a multi-generational audience that is doing the same thing their parents did and their grandparents did. It’s a pretty neat thing to have everyone come together for this.”

Elements of Verizon’s campaign will run on NBCU’s strategic partners Apple News, BuzzFeed and Concert.

The livestream will be synched with the start of the parade at 9 a.m. ET. Actress Olivia Culpo returns as a host of the live stream. She will be joined by BuzzFeed’s Keith Habersberger.