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NBC is Tuned In To Shoppable TV

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One of the stats NBCUniversal likes to promote is that in any four weeks, NBCU content reaches 95% of homes in the U.S. It’s also the reason that in recent years, NBCU has started to focus more on creating shoppable content across all platforms to really take advantage of the audience it has at its disposal.

On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, I talked to Evan Moore, the Vice President of Commerce Partnerships at NBCUniversal, who explained all the ways that NBCU is connecting viewers with shopping experiences. And he told us how brands work with the company to target and attribute conversions on content of any kind. Whether consumers are reading a blog or streaming their favorite Bravo reality show, Evan says they are able to capture that already-engaged audience and bring a seamless interactive shopping experience straight to them. He also touches on what he sees as the future of shopping on connected devices, and how it isn’t just shopping, but is the future of entertainment. Plus, are you a brand thinking “how can I get on tv? I want to be part of this shoppable experience! Well tune in to hear how you can play in this world, no matter your company size.

Main Takeaways:

  • The Year of the QR Code: Real-world experience with QR codes have exploded mostly thanks to the pandemic and the need for touchless experiences. As more people have experienced QR codes in different places, it has made them primed to be ready to do the same thing with their media, such as with shoppable TV. 
  • Bring The Party Too Them: When you have an audience already at your fingertips, it doesn’t make sense to try to direct them somewhere else to make a purchase. Bring the shopping experience straight to them where they are already engaging with your content, whether that’s on a social post, a blog, a TV stream, or on their mobile phone while they’re streaming. 
  • Are You Not Entertained?: Consumers don’t mind being sold to as long as they are entertained along the way. When brands and media companies come together to create shoppable content, the goal should be to create stories that are authentic and entertaining, not to just put products in front of consumers and tell them to buy now. 

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“We’re at a bit of a convergence moment that is finally coming together. People have been waiting for shoppable television to happen since the 1970s. There was a platform called the Cube platform that premiered at a World Fair, and then it got some distribution across the country where you could actually use the connected remote to buy things from your TV. To kind of answer your question of why it’s taken so long to actually start to become a thing, there’s just a lot of complexities at play… Anytime that you’re doing something on television, you’re talking about a production company, distribution companies, talent, and then a retail partner, and getting all of those parties to align to produce a piece of content that organically and authentically inspires somebody to purchase a product that is then available to be purchased at that time, that’s a complicated problem.

“I think there’s two phases to this, the first phase being where we try to layer commerce on top of the content we’re already creating, and identify those organic moments where it makes sense to drive a shopping experience, versus the next phase, which is, okay, now we have a tool set of shopping in the same way we have music and casting and setting. What could that change about the type of content we make? What sort of shoppable entertainment will we create now that we know that a consumer or a viewer can actually purchase a thing they’re seeing onscreen right in that moment?”

“There’s been some other opportunities like what we’ve done with Sewing Down South on Bravo where the actual members of that cast have their own products and brands that they’re interacting with as part of the storyline of the show, and those are amazing contextual moments to then say, “If you’re already a viewer that loves this show and loves Craig Conover, why not take out your phone, scan, and find out about this product line from Sewing Down South?” We’re exploring every piece of content within that spectrum, and then again saying, “Okay. Now that we can actually drive a shopping experience from content, how should that change the format of the show? Should we create shows that are specifically developed with that in mind?” and that’s been a really fun place to be right now.” 

“With shoppable TV, we’ve been working on this and been out in the market with this dating back to 2019, before the pandemic set in. But the proliferation of QR code scanning for menus and any other touchless experience in the real world has been a huge help in actually educating the public on how to use this interface.” 

“Way back in late 2018, going into 2019, we launched a site called Shop with Golf…  It was a lifestyle content destination that also featured a marketplace of really fantastic golf-oriented retailers that were all in the apparel and home goods space. The learning that we have from that is that we created some amazing content. We started to generate some scale around a user base, but doing that around a completely brand new property and trying to generate both an audience and a marketplace around it at the same time, it was really expensive… we’re already reaching 95% of US homes, so we are effectively purchasing that audience again or having to reach that audience again when we’re already reaching them from a place and a voice that they trust, love, and are used to consuming. So, the lesson we took from that was instead of bringing users to our commerce is, let’s bring commerce to where the audience is. So, we built NBCUniversal Checkout, and it utilized shoppable TV in much the same way to drive just a seamless purchase experience wherever our audience already is, and then finding super contextual ways to align the shopping experience with the content.”  

“We really need to lean into what we’re already doing every day with our content, which is inspiring discovery. So, a common thing we hear from users all the time is that when they’re watching our shows, or even our commercials, they’re inspired to purchase products, and we make it so hard for them to do that. If they see something on a TV show, an outfit, a pair of shoes, or something in the home, they’re left to their own devices to go do a web search, click on a sponsored link, land on an e-commerce site, think about buying the product, and then maybe get retargeted on a social channel before they finally convert, when we’ve already inspired that moment, and we can through technology drive that transaction right there at that moment of inspiration and show the value to the retail brand that we’ve actually delivered through content and our advertising.”“Philosophically, I think we’re at an inflection point where the consumer expectation is that all television should be interactive.”

“It’s a careful balance between the consumer expectation to be known wherever they’re interacting, versus their desire for privacy, and to opt into that knowledge, and that’s something that we’re super sensitive about with everything that we build because there’s a way in which data can be really amazing and can be super additive to a consumer experience, and then a way in which it can really destroy trust.”

“There’s a massive consumer desire for that same ease of transaction that they encounter on the web and within their mobile apps to transition to places like TV when they’re actually interacting with content on television.”

“You’re going to see more and more content platforms and publishers start to close transaction on property and create closed ecosystems around both their data and the actual consumer experience, because those are going to be the contexts in which data can actually be put to use in a way that consumers find useful, that they feel safe about, and that is actually effective, versus what might have to happen with third-party data collections in the way that we’ve seen audience targeting work in the past.”

“NBC is here to partner with brands to tell stories, and at the end of the day, what’s going to be most effective is the quality of the story that you’re telling and the authenticity of that story, and I think NBCU is very well positioned to help brands identify what about their story resonates most with audiences to guide them through the process of telling that in a high-quality fashion, and doing it as a form of entertainment, in a way the audiences want to see.”

Mentions:

Bio:

Evan Moore is the Vice President of Commerce Partnerships for NBCUniversal, where he leads an interdisciplinary team in the conceptualization, research, build and launch of NBCUniversal Checkout – a first of its kind embeddable universal cart platform enabling NBCUniversal to convert any piece of web content – including video – in to a natively shoppable experience. Prior to his work at NBCUniversal, Moore was the Vice President of Product at goop.com and Director of Product Management, Commerce Platform at Ticketmaster. 

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

 

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Hey, there. Welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. This is your host, Stephanie Postles, CEO of Mission.org. Today on the show we have Evan Moore, who currently serves as the vice president of commerce partnerships at NBCUniversal. Evan, welcome to the podcast.

Evan:

Thanks so much, Stephanie. So, excited to be here.

Stephanie:

Me too. I’m very excited to have another media property on our podcast within a media company. It’s like Inception. I love it. So, before we jump into your current role at NBC, I was hoping you could go through a bit of your background, because I saw you worked at places like Goop and Ticketmaster, and I have a lot of questions, starting with, how close are you with Gwyneth Paltrow?

Evan:

Great question. Yeah. So, I’ve been working largely in a digital product capacity for something like 13 or 14 years now. I really forget how old I am, and if I think about it too much it makes me sad. But at a lot of different companies, both big and small, from being employee number 25 at a company like Beautycounter, which is a really amazing direct-to-consumer clean beauty company that was recently… The Carlisle Group took a majority stake in them for almost $2 billion. Yeah. I joined them as the first technology hire and scaled up their product and development team as they grew, or larger companies like Ticketmaster where I really oversaw their commerce platform, which is the series of services and APIs that they use to not only power commerce experiences on their own applications and mobile apps, but also on third-party sites and applications like Facebook and Spotify, really injecting commerce directly into music experiences on those platforms.

Evan:

Then most recently, heading up digital product for Goop. I came there at a formative time in the company, when they were rather small. They had just taken some venture funding and were sitting around 40 or 45 employees, and was along for a wild ride as we scaled both their audience, and to a massive degree, their e-commerce business around their own private label brands, but also around a really successful multi-brand strategy within their marketplace. All of those experiences share in common this overlap between content and commerce, really looking at how you can deeply and seamlessly integrate a commerce experience into a high-quality concept experience and turn an audience into customers, and that’s really what I’ve been brought to do over here at NBCUniversal at scale, is to apply that same set of strategies and insights to the world’s highest-quality portfolio of premium content. The stat that we always like to throw around here at NBCUniversal is that in any given four weeks we reach somewhere around 95% of US homes.

Stephanie:

Wow.

Evan:

So, there isn’t a bigger stage on which to build those learnings to play. I’m really excited to be here and have been here for the past two-and-a-half years, and then to answer your question, there was as period of time, or somewhere close to a year, where I directly reported to Gwyneth.

Stephanie:

Okay. So, you were basically besties.

Evan:

Yeah. We’re totally besties. I’m sure she’ll call me later today to ask advice about something. Yeah.

Stephanie:

Yep, for sure. Oh, my gosh. I love that. So, throughout your career, was there a point when you were like, “Ooh, shoppable commerce, we have to do that,” and if so, what has been holding it back? Because I feel like it’s been talked about for… I don’t know. I would say maybe at least five to 10 years people have been saying this needs to be implemented, but then it seems like it’s been really slow to actually catch up. Even now, I’m thinking of Instagram. I’m still just getting there where I can actually find something on certain people’s pages and actually buy it, but it still feels a little jenky.

Evan:

Yeah. No, no. I think there was a few different experiences in sequence that slowly crept up on me. First was definitely my time over at Beautycounter, and seeing how important the message around the product was to actually driving expansion of that business, and largely, their message was delivered word of mouth. They work with a large network of independent consultants that come into your home and tell you about Beautycounter, and clean beauty is something that matters. But that went from word of mouth to a very viral digital message really effectively, and I got to watch that drive the revenue of that company in a really meaningful way.

Evan:

Then kind of in a contrast to that, working at a place like Ticketmaster, I always say one of the top three most derided companies in the US, I got to see how passionate people were about music, about the content, and also then from more of a strategic perspective to see how impactful being able to drive commerce off platform within the context of where that music is happening was to Ticketmaster’s business, and to see how big of a part of its business and a growing part of its business it was. Then right after that, to be brought into a world like Goop, a newsletter that I had seen my wife read for years, and to really kind of have that idea of what it was, and then to get a look under the hood and see the massive business that was being built on the strength of that audience and the connection that Goop and Gwyneth had to that audience, and the authority and authenticity they had in that space.

Evan:

Then to see the flywheel effect that they were able to drive by making product recommendations to those audience members, driving them to actually try those products out and experience value from them, which then increased their loyalty and their trust that they put in that frame and that content. So, it wasn’t ever just this one big aha moment, but more just gradual realization that content and authenticity and connection and audience are so much more powerful drivers of creating a sustainable, profitable commerce business more so than, I think, a lot of the existing tactics that are out there in the marketplace around bottom-of-funnel, data-fueled retargeting or algorithmic product recommendation, which are a lot of tactics that really just tell you what you already know you want, as opposed to inspire you to decide what you should do next and what you should try out or discover next.

Evan:

Today, I think we’re at a bit of a convergence moment that is finally coming together. People have been waiting for shoppable television to happen since the 1970s. There was a platform called the Cube platform that premiered at a World Fair, and then it got some distribution across the country where you could actually use the connected remote to buy things from your TV. To kind of answer your question of why it’s taken so long to actually start to become a thing, there’s just a lot of complexities at play outside of… Anytime that you’re doing something on television, you’re talking about a production company, distribution companies, talent, and then a retail partner, and getting all of those parties to align to produce a piece of content that organically and authentically inspires somebody to purchase a product that is then available to be purchased at that time, that’s a complicated problem.

Evan:

There’s been a lot of things that have been changing, a lot of things around the speed of production timelines, the availability of products across the country through e-commerce vendors, the quick payment methods where users have credit card methods that are stored in a common place that could be accessed by different digital platforms, and then also, machine learning and computer vision algorithms that could actually identify products within visual mediums. All of those things are starting to come together, along with users’ expectations of being able to interact with and shop from content wherever the see it. So, they’ve become used to being able to buy things first off of blogs, and now off of platforms, social platforms with video and interactive video, and now they’re getting acclimated to the idea that they should be able to interact with and purchase products wherever they encounter them, regardless whether it’s a small screen or a big screen.

Stephanie:

Wow. That’s a lot of things at play. I’m even imagining product placement being dynamically swapped, where one second one brand has their product in there, and maybe six months later there’s reruns, and there’s a new one in there. Maybe we’re not there yet, but it seems like there’s a lot of things that could be done.

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, there’s just a universe of possibilities. One thing that I talk about a lot is I think there’s two phases to this, the first phase being where we try to layer commerce on top of the content we’re already creating, and identify those organic moments where it makes sense to drive a shopping experience, versus the next phase, which is, okay, now we have a tool set of shopping in the same way we have music and casting and setting. What could that change about the type of content we make? What sort of shoppable entertainment will we create now that we know that a consumer or a viewer can actually purchase a thing they’re seeing onscreen right in that moment.

Stephanie:

How do you identify a shoppable experience? Because if you guys are reaching 95% of America, you have a lot of content going out. How do you go in and figure out, okay, this is a good scene or piece of content or series, it’s got a good audience there, willing to shop? Walk me through how you all think about that.

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, that’s really a place where we’re experimenting a lot right now. We’ve got a super flexible platform that lets us drive commerce moments that are contextual to the scene that you’re watching, that are directly driven by a piece of content that is actually talking about the product. There’s a lot of shows that we put out that feature segments, whether it’s the Today Show or Daily Pop on E!, or even some of our shows on Telemundo where shopping segments are entertainment to our consumers, and that’s a great opportunity to both recommend a product and drive a purchase directly from there, but then there’s been some other opportunities like what we’ve done with Sewing Down South on Bravo where the actual members of that cast have their own products and brands that they’re interacting with as part of the storyline of the show, and those are amazing contextual moments to then say, “If you’re already a viewer that loves this show and loves Craig Conover, why not take out your phone, scan, and find out about this product line from Sewing Down South?”

Evan:

We’re exploring every piece of content within that spectrum, and then again saying, “Okay. Now that we can actually drive a shopping experience from content, how should that change the format of the show? Should we create shows that are specifically developed with that in mind?” and that’s been a really fun place to be right now. Even though this is a concept that’s been talked about for 40 years, the two modes of shoppable entertainment we have right now haven’t really changed over that time, where it’s a QVC-driven experience, or now what you’re seeing with livestream shopping on a lot of different social platforms.

Stephanie:

Yeah, yeah. It seems like the education piece and pulling consumers up with how they actually shop, I’m even thinking what I know how to shop. It’s like the QR code when it came out, or scanning menus, and I remember just last month my mom came out, and she was like, “What do I do? Do I download an app? Do I do this?” and I’m like, that was probably me just six months ago or something. So, how do you think about the experience for the consumer? How do they even know how to interact? Are you specifically telling them multiple times throughout the programming what to do?

Evan:

Yeah. No, the education piece is actually super important. We’ve activated it enough times that we do know that we have to introduce the concept to the user, at least in those initial couple of activations, to the same audience. Over time, frequency is really important. Building that behavior with the audience that you’re reaching with that same IP is super important, and we do see that over time we see larger response rates from being able to train consumers to know that when a code pops up, it’s easy enough to just take your phone out and point the camera at it.

Evan:

I have to say with shoppable TV, we’ve been working on this and been out in the market with this dating back to 2019, before the pandemic set in, but the proliferation of QR code scanning for menus and any other touchless experience in the real world has been a huge help in actually educating the public on how to use this interface. You’ve seen a lot of people talking in the press about how after many years it is now finally the year of the QR code, and the response rates we see from shoppable TV activations, they are far above any sort of other interactive television, either ad units or in content capabilities that we’ve experimented with across different platforms.

Stephanie:

Cool. I’d love to dive into the experiments you’re running, maybe some of the craziest ones you’ve run, where your team’s like, “Don’t do it. Don’t do it. It’s not going to work,” or ones that you didn’t think would work, and they actually did, just to hear what you guys are really doing behind the scenes.

Evan:

Sure. So, across the board we’ve seen just amazing results from all the different ways in which we activate content with the one-platform commerce set of capabilities. When it comes to shoppable TV either in show or out of show, we’re driving conversion rates that are close to 3% or around 2.6% across the board, which is-

Stephanie:

That’s good.

Evan:

Yeah, it’s pretty fantastic, especially for a first-time impression with a brand or a product. That’s a really high conversion rate, had a really healthy average order values. Similarly, we’ve seen incredible response rates from some shoppable rich media units that we’ve built where you can actually shop directly from what would be a standard ad unit without ever leaving the NBC content experience. Those have performed 10X compared to normal rich media units that aren’t integrated with a cart. In terms of trying to think about things that we’ve tried that have been more of a learning experience, rather than a huge success, when we first started this journey out way back in late 2018, going into 2019, we launched a site called Shop with Golf.

Evan:

Shop with Golf, if I was going to describe it as anything, was like a Goop for golf. It was a lifestyle content destination that also featured a marketplace of really fantastic golf-oriented retailers that were all the apparel and home goods space. The learning that we have from that is that we created some amazing content. We started to generate some scale around a user base, but doing that around a completely brand new property and trying to generate both an audience and a marketplace around it at the same time, it was really expensive and difficult to do, which if you’ve never-

Stephanie:

Which are each of the hardest things, an audience and a marketplace, two of the hardest things you can do in commerce.

Evan:

Exactly. At the same time, as I referenced earlier in the call, we’re already reaching 95% of US homes, so we are effectively purchasing that audience again or having to reach that audience again when we’re already reaching them from a place and a voice that they trust, love, and are used to consuming. So, the lesson we took from that was instead of bringing users to our commerce is, let’s bring commerce to where the audience is. So, we built NBCUniversal Checkout, and it utilized shoppable TV in much the same way to drive just a seamless purchase experience wherever our audience already is, and then finding super contextual ways to align the shopping experience with the their content.

Stephanie:

Yep. What is the easiest, I guess, meshed experience right now? What kind of content is doing best with the shoppable experience? Because I keep hearing about it needs to be authentic content, even low-produced TikTok style.

Evan:

Yeah.

Stephanie:

Consumers right now are okay with that and buying from that. What are you all seeing at NBC?

Evan:

Totally. Yeah, it does come down to the audience trusting the voice that the content is coming from, or… There’s two different ways. They need to either trust that person, and we’ve seen so much success as an organization from Jill Martin and what she does over at the Today Show, Jill’s Steals and Deals. Similarly, we work together with a wonderful talent named Lilliana Vazquez that runs a segment called Deals for Real as part of E! Online, and both of those segments have just been so fantastic at building a loyal user base that comes there regularly and trusts the recommendations that are being made to them.

Evan:

Then on the flip side, we really need to lean into what we’re already doing every day with our content, which is inspiring discovery. So, a common thing we hear from users all the time is that when they’re watching our shows, or even our commercials, they’re inspired to purchase products, and we make it so hard for them to do that. If they see something on a TV show, an outfit, a pair of shoes, or something in the home, they’re left to their own devices to go do a web search, click on a sponsored link, land on an e-commerce site, think about buying the product, and then maybe get retargeted on a social channel before they finally convert, when we’ve already inspired that moment, and we can through technology drive that transaction right there at that moment of inspiration and show the value to the retail brand that we’ve actually delivered through content and our advertising.

Stephanie:

Yep. Yeah. It seems like it should be an experience where everything can be shoppable. I don’t know if it eventually can get there, because I think about back in the day, we’ll say maybe… Every TV show like Gilmore Girls and all those kind of things, there were entire blogs that show where every single outfit came from, and so you have the perfect point of the market wants this. The market is trying to create this right now, but it’s not just tagging, “You can have this item here or this one.” A lot of times, people wanted the entire scene, and be able to-

Evan:

That’s right.

Stephanie:

… just have it right then and there.

Evan:

That’s right.

Stephanie:

Is that kind of what you guys are thinking about too?

Evan:

I mean, philosophically, I think we’re at an inflection point where the consumer expectation is that all television should be interactive.

Stephanie:

Yeah.

Evan:

We’re all now, at least the majority of us, are viewing our TV on digitally-connected screens, and we have remotes that we’re routinely using to interact with the experience on that screen. When we watch programming today, if we see a scene and we want to find out which actor is in it or where the scene was shot, we can press pause, scroll around, figure that information out, and I think that that expectation from consumers is only going to grow, and the desire to be able to interact with a piece of content, find out more about it, bring a piece of it into their home, that’s not only going to be a consumer desire, but the ability to execute on that is going to be a competitive advantage in a way that you actually deliver more value to consumers through your content.

Stephanie:

Yeah, yeah. I also see devices, being able to interact anywhere. You’re watching something on TV, you should be able to pull something up on your phone, have it in the same spot, be able to find it, talk to Alexa, “Order me this.” I mean, it seems like there are so many devices now, but there has to be some kind of synergy between all of them so you don’t always have to find where you left off and find the website and open whatever app you were watching it in.

Evan:

It’s a careful balance between the consumer expectation to be known wherever they’re interacting, versus their desire for privacy, and to opt into that knowledge, and that’s something that we’re super sensitive about with everything that we build because there’s a way in which data can be really amazing and can be super additive to a consumer experience, and then a way in which it can really destroy trust.

Stephanie:

Yep. Yeah. We had on a guest, Domm Holland from Fast.

Stephanie:

I was thinking him talking about identity, and they’re going to be the source for that, and then one-click payments, and it seems like the perfect mix for something like NBC where someone gets on there, and they’re looking and being like, “Yep, you already know me. I’m ready to pay. It’s a quick thing. Still watching my show.” How do you all think about making that frictionless experience and incorporating technologies to help with that?

Evan:

Absolutely. So, the name of the game for us is seamless purchase. Consumers are absolutely tired of entering payment details as they go from one site to another. There’s really been a consolidation around both identity platforms and payment wallets. With NBCUniversal Checkout, we are tightly partnered, actually, with PayPal as a big provider both of our payment processing, and also the usage of the PayPal button, which, by the way, for all of the new quick payment methods that are out there, PayPal is still by far the most widely used quick payment method on the web, and that’s something that we’ve seen bear out in a big way, especially for our mobile users. So, PayPal’s been a fantastic partner there, for sure.

Evan:

I think that there’s a massive consumer desire for that same ease of transaction that they encounter on the web and within their mobile apps to transition to places like TV when they’re actually interacting with content on television. That’s a Wild, Wild West, something that has not really been developed to any sort of a degree. I don’t think those actual design patterns exist for what that should look like on a television device. So, it’s a really complex area to explore, but that just means there’s so much value to unlock there.

Stephanie:

Yeah, yeah. I don’t even know how I would imagine interacting with that. I’m like, do I want to just click, click, click and save it, maybe, to actually think about it for later, or do I want the one-click buy? I actually don’t know what I want.

Evan:

One thing’s for certain, is you don’t want to use your remote to enter a credit card. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do that, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Even entering in WiFi details, that was enough for me to almost give up and be like, “I just don’t need a TV, I guess.” That’s what it comes down to.

Evan:

Yeah.

Stephanie:

So, if I’m a brand, how big do I have to be to interact with NBC’s one-commerce platform? How can my brand be offered to show up in these programming?

Evan:

That’s a great question. So, one of the best parts of what we’ve built here is that it’s a platform and an opportunity that is suitable for a brand, no matter their size. So, we currently have over 150 retail brands in our marketplace network for NBCUniversal Checkout, and they vary in size from very large retailers to direct-to-consumer companies that maybe have a product catalog of five to 10 products, and actually having that variety of sizes and product assortment, brands on the platform itself, is extremely important to what we’re building because that enables us to develop content for different audiences that’s authentic to that audience, and actually to drive discovery for consumers, to serve as a curator for bringing new products and brands into their homes.

Evan:

Then we’re developing media products on top of that capability across our different digital touchpoints, and even into linear, that are accessible for those brands. So, we’re working with brands, 97% of which have never done anything with NBCUniversal through our one-platform commerce offerings. We have some really great NBCUniversal brands that we’ve worked with for years that are also partnering with us through those commerce capabilities, and that just shows the flexibility and the power of the platform to really open the market up and go beyond just the tradition brands that we have joining [inaudible] every year.

Stephanie:

Yeah. That’s great, especially when you’re thinking about the world right now. It’s D-to-C everything. Everyone wants the newest, the coolest thing. To be able to actually feature those brands on a trendy episode with the Bits Toothpaste Bites or something, whatever, it’s like, “Whoa, what are those toothpaste things in a glass jar? What are they doing with that?” That showcases not only the brand, but also you guys as forward-thinking product [inaudible] people where you’re showcasing cool stuff. Like you said, you’re the content curators, the product curators for your audience. I mean, that’s [crosstalk]

Evan:

Exactly. It’s kind of the best of both worlds right now because on a lot of social platforms you discover a whole bunch of new brands, but which ones of them should you trust? Is that ad that you’re seeing and buying from actually coming from some sort of a drop ship aggregator who is sending you something from a factory in some other part of the world that you’re not super happy about the quality of the product that actually gets delivered. With NBCUniversal, you can really trust our voice and know that we’re going to care about the quality of the products and the brands that we show you through our content.

Stephanie:

How does the brand think about it when it gets outside the US? Because I think your content’s consumed basically everywhere in the world that I know-

Evan:

That’s right.

Stephanie:

… mostly everywhere. How should a brand be thinking about that? Because how they’re probably pitching it here is very different than in Europe, and even, I don’t know, the UK may be a little bit different.

Evan:

That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. So, within our suite of capabilities, some of them are perfectly activatable for a global audience. So, with shoppable TV, we’ve activated it in Europe. We’ve actually activated it in Africa for some brands. Last year we did a great campaign with Farfetch that was both in the US and in Europe, and in that case it is a lot easier to reach a global audience because we can drive into a transaction experience that’s catered towards the compliance restrictions and different tax implications of shopping in a global market. With NBCUniversal Checkout, it is purely a domestic offering, but there’s definitely aspirations to take that to a global audience and a global set of brands in the future.

Evan:

And we do keep an eye on what’s going on globally so that we can build a platform that is ready to meet that global opportunity at some point in the future.

Stephanie:

Great. What should a brand expect if they come into your platform? Are there big surges in orders? Do brands come back and they’re like, “Wow. I wasn’t ready for this,” or what happens behind the scenes?

Evan:

Yeah. I mean, behind the scenes there’s a really deep connection between my team, the commerce partnerships team, and the actual brand, and we find for the brands opportunities within the portfolio to be featured in their content, and a lot of the brands that we work with comment that even outside of the revenue that we’re able to drive for them, just the integration into storytelling and the association that they get with the NBCU brand is so valuable to them. So, we’re definitely working with brands multiple times through different parts of the portfolio. We can expose them through a show on E! Online, and then expose them to a whole new audience through Telemundo the next month. The brands that we work with have been super happy to work with us and really excited about finding even deeper ways to collaborate. How can they keep us in tune with the new products that they have coming down the pipe? How can we keep them abreast of what new content we’re developing in the future and then find those really organic moments to make those two things overlap?

Stephanie:

Cool. So, the one thing I like to ask about is always around attribution because I feel like it’s such a sticky area, and the world’s changing so quickly. How do you all go about handling that, especially from a TV perspective? How do you show a brand, “This actually came from here, and here [crosstalk]”?

Evan:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, being NBCUniversal, we’re sitting on top of decades of research around how our different media properties can actually drive both traffic, revenue, and results for our partners, and then add it to that with shoppable TV. It’s a new level of direct and deterministic attribution that is just a layer on top of that. We can directly show for the first time consumers going from watching a TV show into a transactional experience on their phone without having them have to type in a URL with some sort of special code that goes along with it. So, we really can show that we’ve driven a transaction right at that moment of inspiration.

Evan:

Similarly, across any of our digital platforms, we’re not just sending you leads. We are sending you customers and orders. There is no chance for misattribution of the customer that we’ve just sent you, and in fact, we can disambiguate all other marketing sources so that you can really show the revenue that we’ve driven, absent of anything else in your marketing mix, and that really allows us to just show the value of our content and our media in a way that none of our other technologies have ever really let us do.

Stephanie:

Yeah. That’s awesome. It seems like a lot of advertising is going to change because of this easy experience. It’s going to come probably in the couple years, I would say.

Evan:

Yeah.

Stephanie:

What forms of advertising do you think are going to start to die, or what things are going to change, especially around maybe TV, that you’re like, “The world just doesn’t know yet”?

Evan:

Yeah. I think especially with IDFA coming into play, I do think you’re going to see more and more content platforms and publishers start to close transaction on property and create closed ecosystems around both their data and the actual consumer experience, because those are going to be the contexts in which data can actually be put to use in a way that consumers find useful, that they feel safe about, and that is actually effective, versus what might have to happen with third-party data collections in the way that we’ve seen audience targeting work in the past. So, I do expect that we’ll see we’re not going to be the first ones that are launching a platform like NBCUniversal Checkout, and that are building in-context shopping experiences through their content.

Evan:

Given the success that social platforms are having in the same way, I think that we’re going to see consumers overall just become much more acclimated over time to the idea of purchasing right on platform when they’re seeing the content, especially if it’s from a brand that they trust or a voice that they trust, and especially if it’s using payment methods that they’re familiar with like PayPal, which can also establish trust and understanding that they’re actually going to be protected in that purchase.

Stephanie:

Yep. Hey, I wonder if it at a certain point, if consumers are going to get burned out with all these platforms everywhere, gated platforms to get into, because it seems like every brand is turning into a media company, every media company is turning into a brand, and the lines are definitely blurring, but then I hear… I mean, a lot of brands come on here, and they’re like, “We’re creating the next Netflix,” and I totally get it. I’m like, “You want that first-party data. You want to be able to make sure you have all the insights there,” but at a certain point, how many Netflixes of the world can we have where customers are bouncing around, logging in, paying for a bunch of different things in a very distributed type system? I mean, what do you think that should look like, or how-

Evan:

Yeah, yeah. I think the important thing there is to lean into your strengths as a company. So, integrating with common identity platforms is really key so the consumer’s identity can be portable, and they can log in with a login system that they’re used to using on other sites. The same thing with payment technologies. Don’t make them have to put a new credit card in or force them to choose a payment system that they’re not familiar with so that they feel like they’re having to establish their customer profile in every single place that they go to, and then lean into where you are differentiated, and for us that’s for premium content. We’re not scared of anybody else that wants to try to get into this game because we know that the content and the audience is the hardest part.

Stephanie:

Yeah, yeah.

Evan:

We’ve been doing that for over 100 years, and doing it better than anybody else.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I oftentimes think brands should be going and creating premium content.

Evan:

That’s right.

Stephanie:

I mean, how do you think they should be partnering with big media agencies to actually have a good mix where it is organic and authentic, it’s something that someone wants to watch, but it’s also helping the brand? I mean, how should that relationship be approached? Because sometimes you see it working really well, like Formula 1, and then other times you’re like, “That’s too much. You’re pitching me too much, and I actually lost sight of what this series was even about.”

Evan:

Yeah. I think you might’ve seen the recent announcement from Josh Feldman, my boss and our CMO, that NBC is here to partner with brands to tell stories, and at the end of the day, what’s going to be most effective is the quality of the story that you’re telling and the authenticity of that story, and I think NBCU is very well positioned to help brands identify what about their story resonates most with audiences to guide them through the process of telling that in a high-quality fashion, and doing it as a form of entertainment, in a way the audiences want to see, and we see that bear out all over the place. Consumers don’t mind being sold if they actually find the process entertaining, and if they actually find the product that they end up with valuable, and something that’s additive to their lives. They actually find that to be a great experience. That is what they want.

Stephanie:

Yep, I agree. So, what are some of the things you’re most excited about right now at NCB? What brands, what pieces of content? What are you all doing? Give me the scoop.

Evan:

Sure. So, I won’t get super specific. I can say that I’m really excited about BravoCon, which is Bravo’s… It’ll be their second ever BravoCon that they’re doing out of the Javits Center, and I’ll say that there’s going to be a really exciting commerce component to that.

Stephanie:

Cool.

Evan:

There’s some new programming coming up that’s more in line with the shoppable entertainment that I’m describing, where we’re really understanding what we can do with content now that we can drive shopping, and I’m really excited about that. I don’t think I can quite say more than that. Then I can say that I am extremely excited about our partnership with Facebook and Instagram. So, as we announced at the One21 event earlier this year, we have first what’s kind of a partnership with Facebook and Instagram where as a major publisher we’re going to be able to create shoppable content, including stories, posts, reels, using their drops feature, for example, all featuring the products from our retail partners in the marketplace-

Stephanie:

Cool.

Evan:

… which is something that’s unique to NBC and our partnership with Facebook and Instagram, and super excited what we can do there. We’re reaching hundreds of millions of consumers and fans through our handles on those platforms.

Stephanie:

How many handles do you have on Instagram?

Evan:

Dozens, dozens. I think they just created a new one right now.

Stephanie:

So, what kind of content are you guys creating, and what are the results? I mean, how are you making things convert really well?

Evan:

Sure.

Stephanie:

I’m sure everyone’s like, “I want to do that.”

Evan:

Yeah, absolutely. So, our first piece of content on Instagram is going to roll out later this quarter, and so we’ll get a lot of feedback there and see what that’s like. At this point, we’re open to experimentation. It’s a brand new green field for us. We want to try a whole bunch of different things, but I don’t think we have enough data right now to say what’s going to work on that platform, and what’s not. So, we’re really excited to find out, and I also have just been informed that I can talk about the fact that later this year we’re actually going to be launching an amazing program on the USA Network called America’s Big Deal. We’re actually going to be using our suite of shoppable capabilities directly integrated to drive live sales as part of a show, which will then determine which contestants on the show actually make it to the next part of the episode.

Stephanie:

Oh, fun.

Evan:

Yeah.

Stephanie:

That’s something that could be slightly addicting, but I’m excited to watch it. Very, very coo. All right. Well, let’s shift over to the lightning round. The lightning round’s brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I send a question your way, and you have a minute or less to answer.

Evan:

Okay.

Stephanie:

Are you ready?

Evan:

I’m ready, yes.

Stephanie:

All right. If you had a podcast what would it be about, and who would your first guest be? You’ve got the network, so you essentially can get anyone.

Evan:

That’s a great question. If I had a podcast, I think it would be about what’s coming up in the future. So, I’m a big futurist myself. I just finished reading a book called Space Barons about the big space race. I’m getting really into the Metaverse right now, and brain interface technology and things like that, and all those things get me really super excited. In terms of who my first guest would be about any of those subject, you know who’d be great? He’s a very divisive character, but I’d love to talk to Elon Musk [crosstalk]

Stephanie:

I knew you were going to say that.

Evan:

You knew it.

Stephanie:

[crosstalk] space, you want Elon Musk.

Evan:

That’s right. That’s right. He’s depicted a lot of different ways in the media. I would love to understand what he actually thinks and who he actually is.

Stephanie:

What’s one thing you don’t understand today that you wish you did?

Evan:

One thing I don’t understand today? I think I would love to understand more about cryptocurrency, and what makes it work or not work, one, because I’ve just seen a lot of contemporaries make a whole lot of money off of something that seems completely obtuse to me, and two, but when I really dig into it and start to understand the core fundamentals of it, it does seem like something really, really exciting, especially when it extends into the world of NFTs and what you can do with ownership around digital goods.

Stephanie:

Yep. Yeah, completely agree. NFTs, I’m still trying to figure that one out fully because I feel like there’s uses there, but because it exploded so quickly and there were so many things happening very quickly, I think people were like, “I’m past that wave now. We already figured it out. On to the next one.”

Evan:

Exactly, exactly.

Stephanie:

It’ll come back.

Evan:

I agree. I completely agree.

Stephanie:

Yeah. What’s up next on your reading list?

Evan:

I actually just got a book that I’m sure you’re familiar with, Ready Player One.

Stephanie:

Yep.

Evan:

It’s been around for about a decade now, but I had seen the movie before, but caught another show of it when I was on a plane recently, and just really wanted to dig into the book, which I’ve heard is a lot better than the actual movie itself. So, I just picked that up, and then I bought another book that’s called Blockchain Chicken Farm, which is-

Stephanie:

Okay.

Evan:

It’s anybody the impact of technology on rural China, and looking forward to diving into that.

Stephanie:

Oh, I’ll have to check that one out. Well, the audience already knows I love blockchain, Bitcoin. I will talk about that all day. I try and bring it up in every interview, and only very few people bite, so [crosstalk]

Evan:

I’m here to bite, for sure.

Stephanie:

I’ll bite. All right. The last one, when you want to get creative, what do you do?

Evan:

Yeah. So, I like to listen to music. If I’m getting really creative, I tend to go down a rabbit hole of research, is what tends to drive creativity for me the most, and I like to work visually. So, I play a lot in platforms like Lucidchart or Figma as just a way of starting to cut and paste my way towards an idea, and it usually ends up being how I communicate my ideas as well.

Stephanie:

Amazing. All right, Evan. It’s been a blast having you on, such a fun and different conversation. Where can people find out more about you and NBCUniversal and the brands that you’re partnering with?

Evan:

Sure. So, you can check out the one-platform commerce set of tools and anything to do with NBCUniversal Checkout or shoppable TV at together.nbcuniversal.com. I believe the site’s NBCUniversal Together site, and then you can find out more about me. I’m on Twitter @EvoMore, E-V-O-M-O-R-E. Yeah.

Stephanie:

All right.

Evan:

But this has been so great. Thank you so much, Stephanie. I really appreciate it.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Thanks for coming on. It was a blast.

Episode 132