NBCUniversal says audiences love the programming in its lifestyle networks and that it has developed an algorithm similar to the one used by online dating sites to help viewers warm up to its advertisers' brands.
Working with the research firm Coherency and its LoveQuotient methodology, NBCU is offering clients a way to ensure that their ad campaign will leave viewers with the right feeling about their products. That, in turn, delivers sales.
NBCU, part of Comcast, is a big believer in data. And the company's lifestyle cable network group, which includes Bravo, E!, Esquire, Oxygen and Sprout, has been working on research to show its unique connection with viewers for several years.
"The first year, we looked at research from Nielsen and MRI and we saw our audience was young and social," said Laura Molen, executive VP, lifestyle advertising sales groups at NBCU. The second year, a Nielsen Buyer Index study found NBC lifestyle network viewers were big spenders. It turned out that every dollars spent on advertising on those channels resulted in $15 in products bought by viewers.
"Advertisers really loved and embraced that because it really helped give the ROI [return on investment], which they're constantly looking for, so we proved that out," Molen said.
But in conversations with clients this year, advertisers were looking for something different. "What I kept hearing over and over again was they were talking about brand love and engaging consumers."
That seemed to be up the alley for lifestyle networks, so Molen went to head of research Lauren Zweifler, senior VP of research & strategy, lifestyle networks at NBCU, for a metric that shows not only how engaged viewers are with the network's content, but whether that engagement carries forward to their advertisers brands as well. That had proven true in custom studies NBCU has done for advertisers in E! red carpet coverage and Bravo's Watch What Happens Live.
"I wanted to see does this work for the typical commercial," Molen said. Zweifler found Coherency, which measures brand love with its LoveQuotient methodology. "We were able to prove that our indices are through the roof versus the competition."
Coherency measures 26 core attributes that define a brand's personality to determine consumer compatibility with a product and a network. The study measured eight big spending categories, including retail, auto, wireless electronic, health and beauty. Some of the attributes were dependable, some relatable, some exciting.
According to the study, NBCU lifestyle network viewers are 34% more engaged with content, and 55% more engaged with advertiser content. On top of that, NBCU viewers are 50% more likely to share information about advertisers via social media.
That means "you're getting more bang for your buck when you buy the lifestyle networks," Molen said.
But she didn't stop there. "We partnered with Coherency and we are working with them on a consultative platform that will help determine where best to invest their money to achieve brand love," Molen said.
When NBCU gets RFPs (requests for proposals) from advertisers, they often include the buzzwords they want viewers to think, feel and spread after the campaign airs. One said it wanted its brand to be sexy, modern and funny. "When we measured it through the Coherency tool, we blew out the competition when it came to these key words and delivering that result for their campaign," Molen said.
"Quantifying emotional connections with viewers provides both networks and advertisers with the knowledge to reach the right consumers, and even more importantly, to increase engagement with them," said Steve Markov, president of Coherency. "We are thrilled that Coherency, and our first-of-its-kind LoveQuotient methodology, are a part of this groundbreaking approach with NBCUniversal Lifestyle networks."
The tools work for campaigns that use only TV or combine TV with branded content and social.
And the research after those campaigns run is impressing Molen, saying that after applying the tool, ads running on the lifestyle networks scored 42% above average on having viewers pay attention, they're also 68% more likely to share information about the advertiser on social media. And the real bottom line: they're 62% more likely to buy the product or service advertised.
"Advertisers are asking us to go beyond traditional metrics to help them measure their campaigns, to deliver what they're looking for and we really have invested in this research to help them do that," Molen said. "Literally every metric has been through the room and it's been reinforcing what we hear back from advertisers."