How NBCU's Shoppable TV technology is powering the donation process

Shoppable, which debuted last spring, has reached over 40 million people so far.

Last week, NBC aired a reunion special for "Parks and Recreation" to raise money for Feeding America, and the fundraiser wound up garnering $6 million for the organization, with much of the success being attributed to ShoppableTV.

NBCUniversal introduced ShopptableTV a year ago, which allows people to seamlessly purchase products within the viewing experience of their favorite TV shows.

In addition to raising a lot of money- including $2.8 million on the Thursday night alone, the "Parks and Recreation" effort generated nearly 40,000 scans of the NBCU code featured during the special and across Subaru and State Farm commercial in North America and the United Kingdom.

Campaign US caught up with NBCU EVP and Head of Marketing and Advertising Creative Josh Feldman and Sari Feinberg, SVP of creative partnerships, at NBCU to hear more about how Shoppable TV technology is powering donations and benefiting marketers.

When and why did NBCU start using ShoppableTV? 

Feldman: NBCUniversal first introduced ShoppableTV last spring, as a part of our larger content & commerce journey that we've undertaken. ShoppableTV blends the scale of television with the immediacy of mobile commerce, leading to compelling results for brands and viewers. So far, ShoppableTV has reached over 40 million people, and generates an average conversion rate 30 percent higher than the ecommerce industry average. 

With ShoppableTV, viewers simply use their smartphone camera to scan an NBCU Code featured on their television screen. From there, they can easily purchase the products they see. 

Because of the seamless experience that ShoppableTV creates, it was a natural fit for our fundraising efforts during the Parks and Recreation reunion special. While viewers were catching up with their favorite, socially distanced Pawnee locals, they could also easily donate to a wonderful cause like Feeding America. 

Why do you think the Parks and Recreation reunion did so well with ShoppableTV?

Feinberg: "Parks and Recreation" is a truly beloved program with an avid fan base. Reuniting the cast for this special, with the added layer of raising funds and providing relief during these uncertain times, created a unique content experience that was engaging on every level for viewers. 

What's more, we had incredible partners on board to contribute and make every viewer's dollar go even further: State Farm and Subaru each matched donations up to $150,000, along with NBCUniversal, and the cast, writers and producers of "Parks and Recreation."

And when it came time to donate, the process itself was simple, thanks to our ShoppableTV technology: Simply point your smartphone camera at the NBCU Code on your television screen, and complete your contribution on mobile. Within 24 hours, we had nearly 40,000 scans and donations soared into the millions.   

Do you have other plans to use ShoppableTV in the future?

Feldman: ShoppableTV is fully scaled across the NBCUniversal Platform. With such a seamless integration, we have the flexibility to quickly apply the technology wherever it makes sense. In this case it was a philanthropic cause that resulted in millions of dollars in donations to help communities during this time. 

Viewers will certainly see more ShoppableTV experiences -- whether it's for a good cause, or a must-have item -- all within content that makes sense. ShoppableTV brings fans closer to the content they love, and each execution is thoughtfully considered to ensure it provides added value to our audiences.  

What else is NBCU doing to bring viewers more content and the best viewing experiences during these uncertain times?

Feldman: Now more than ever, people are turning to NBCUniversal for content that is not only informative, but entertaining, and a respite from what we are all experiencing during this moment in time. That means we're bringing more content to our audiences. 

In addition to the Parks and Recreation reunion special, we're collaborating with Feeding America to host an on-air comedy festival that will air on May 10th. We're hosting a socially distant version of Hollywood Game Night slated to air on May 12th. 

We also launched "Stay-in Theater" Family Movie Nights with Target, during which we drastically reduced commercial time to create an at-home cinema experience for families across the country. We were able to give back nearly 34 minutes of content. 

And, we're providing more laughs with home-editions of our late night shows, more on-demand content with the digital release of Trolls World Tour, and more reality, originals, and competition across the entire NBCUniversal platform. 

How about how you're helping partners reach their audiences in creative ways right now?

Feldman: Marketers in every industry are looking to us for creative solutions to connect with their audiences in authentic and engaging ways. That's why we're providing free resources to our brand partners in the form of editing and translation services to reach people in Spanish and in English and opening up more creative services.

Most recently, we launched NBCUniversal Checkout, which turns the NBCUniversal platform into a storefront for retailers. While many businesses across the country remain closed, NBCUniversal Checkout provides an opportunity to open up shop and reach viewers directly, by creating shoppable moments around any piece of content, whether it's text-based, digital or TV video, English or Spanish-language. 

We've also waived technology and cart fees for retail partners through the rest of the year to reduce friction and put money directly back into their pockets. 

What advice do you have for brands and ad agencies amid the COVID-19 crisis?

Feldman: It’s incredibly important for brands to remain true to who they are. It’s been wonderful to see companies shift their messages and their creative to highlight charitable initiatives, and stand in solidarity with their audiences. But a brand’s personality doesn’t need to get lost, or take a back-seat. It’s still important to laugh, and as long as you’re striking the right tone it’s okay to bring those messages to consumers. 

At NBCUniversal, people turn to us for news content so they can stay informed. But they also come to us to be entertained, and to escape into programs that give them a reprieve from everything that’s going on in the world. My advice to marketers is to find the right balance that makes the most sense for who they are as a brand.

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