Earlier this week, Mediaweek ran this article explaining one of NBC Universal’s key strategies going into this year’s upfronts: “integrated sales marketing” (ISM). The article describes that NBCU’s integrated marketing packages are intended to offer potential advertisers additional bang for their buck by maximizing the advertiser’s reach across NBCU holdings, with additional bonus features and advantages.
What exactly does all of this mean? Essentially, NBCU’s emphasis on selling ISM deals focuses on delivering three potential benefits to clients. First, by investing in a package, the client can choose from among NBCU’s television holdings (ranging from broadcast network NBC to cable channels USA, Bravo, Syfy, and more) as locations for their ads. Second, the conglom is offering up their on-air talent as shills, so that the advertiser can produce an ad featuring Biggest Loser‘s Alison Sweeney or Community‘s Ken Jeong. Finally, as part of this all-inclusive package, advertisers have an option to sponsor additional materials, including sweepstakes partnered with the company.
As the videos embedded above suggest, one such ISM deployed in both 2009 and 2010 was a partnership made with Turbo Tax leading up to Tax Day. In addition to those ads featuring NBC stars, the company also sponsored ads throughout NBCU’s holdings, including on The Weather Channel, Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker, USA’s Psych, and NBC’s Heroes and Tonight Show. One score even featured a “live” advertisement on Jimmy Fallon. All of these ads referred to the programs during (or channels on) which they aired–starting with some variation of, “So, you’re watching The Weather Channel…did you know…”
It’s an interesting project, and one clearly intended to bolster NBCU’s profile, considering its fourth-place standing among other broadcast networks in terms of viewership. By offering additional benefits that may not be possible from other networks (none of which have as large and diverse a system of cable holdings), the conglom clearly hopes to offset its poor performances with audiences. Moreover, in addition to the large-scale sweep of the Turbo Tax example, NBCU also offers more targeted ISMs to advertisers looking to draw female audiences, environmentally-conscious audiences (with the Green is Universal campaign), and health-conscious audiences.
But will it work? Some outlets rightly critique the 2010 Turbo Tax ads as rather lame (they’re not particularly novel or funny)–but also note that the presence of on-air talent within the ad caused them to stop fast-forwarding, which is really a win in and of itself. There seems to be the sense that it’s certainly worth a shot, and NBCU has nothing to lose. By packaging all of their holdings together, they do offer an enticing option unavailable from a lot of their competitors–one advertiser can put together a broad campaign pretty quickly and simply. And the fact that they’re offering the use of their own stars provides added value for the customer without much added expense for NBCU.
Is this the wave of the future? Who knows? But it’s definitely an interesting development in NBCU’s attempts to offset poor performance with strategies designed to draw and keep advertisers.