NBC.com Revamps Video Player

NEW YORK In anticipation of the upcoming fall TV season, NBC has been reworking its video player to up the ante in interactivity and advertising opportunities for NBC.com.

These efforts are separate from the NBC-News Corp. joint venture, which created the Hulu destination site, though NBC’s long-form programming will be made available on NBC.com, Hulu and the joint venture’s distribution partners’ sites.

NBC is aggressively bringing as many of its new shows to the revamped video player as possible. All of its new fall shows will be included, said Nick Johnson, vp of digital media sales for NBC Universal.

“The strategic objective was to leverage the fact that we have a very engaged, captive audience watching our long-form programming in our rewind player, but we also wanted to make sure we were evolving our advertising opportunities at the rate of change that is happening within the industry,” said Johnson.

Johnson said that while the network considers pre-roll to be a rich and robust opportunity, much more can be accomplished in this environment, either adjacent to the video or surrounding it. “The video screen is not the only place to incorporate ad messages,” he said, noting NBC has created new opportunities to play within that type of real estate.

Johnson explained that in addition to the 15- or 30-second pre-roll, there are launching off points for advertiser participation. For example, a pharmaceutical advertiser would run a 30-second product-oriented spot. Adjacent to that would be an ad unit that led to a 60-second spot including additional product information that potential consumers should know about.

NBC is also working closely with its media agencies on the creative component, potentially incorporating elements such as sequential marketing, added Johnson.

These endeavors, said Johnson, allow NBC to expand existing advertising relationships while building new ones. “We’re working with almost all media vendors who are creating applications that integrate nicely into our player, whether it’s the branded canvas that runs in front or adjacent to the pre-roll before content starts running or working with our interactive logo that runs underneath the long-form content while it’s playing. We’ve created lots of opportunities for advertisers to have their message a click away from our content, so the adjacencies are really very important as well,” said Johnson.

The goal is to provide an environment whereby consumers can leap back and forth in a fluid, non-disruptive manner if they choose to check out of a program momentarily (through a pause feature) and interact between programming and commercial messaging.

Johnson said the pre-roll is often perceived to be a constrained medium, but offering advertisers a larger canvas in a Flash-based environment gives them creative flexibility. “We have seen [through research] that a fair amount of our consumers are sampling our best shows through rewind. So it’s a great acquisition vehicle in accumulating an audience online and a great way to keep our existing viewer base,” he said.

Additionally, NBC.com has incorporated social networking on the site. It has added viewing parties where users can communicate with friends and watch the same programming simultaneously. “Creating an environment where you can distribute content or episodes to your friends is a compelling offering to consumers and very compelling for advertisers as well, with the ability to take their message and distribute it virally,” said Johnson. Additional social networking will be baked into the different show sites as the fall season progresses, he added.