NBCUniversal Guaranteed The Upside’s Advertising Buy on the Movie’s Ticket Sales

It’s the first performance-based campaign for the company’s Audience Studio

NBCUniversal said it has met its performance-based guarantees for The Upside, which has grossed more than $77.9 million. - Credit by STXfilms
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NBCUniversal has been among the loudest voices calling for a new approach to the metrics under which advertising is transacted. And now the company is putting its money where its mouth is, with its first campaign using performance-based guarantees, and not ratings metrics.

The company said its Audience Studio, NBCUniversal’s suite of audience-targeting offerings, guaranteed STXfilms’ media investment for its advertising buy for the film The Upside based on ticket sales, instead of the typical age/gender Nielsen data.

In the partnership, STXfilms and NBCUniversal set performance outcomes utilizing attribution data from Fandango (which is also in the NBCUniversal portfolio) to gauge the effectiveness of advanced targeting and optimization. The program used a performance valuation model that was connected to performance of show-time searches via Fandango and evaluated an increase in ticket purchases.

NBCUniversal’s early data indicates those guarantees were met. The Upside, which starred Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, opened No. 1 at the box office in its first weekend, making $20.4 million, and has made more than $77.9 million to date.

In STXfilms’ campaign for The Upside, it bought inventory across NBCUniversal’s entire broadcast and cable portfolio.

“Video is the most effective advertising medium, yet it has been tied to traditional metrics for too long. We want to prove how each dollar spent yields a direct business result and this is a big step forward on that journey,” said Brian Norris, svp, Audience Studio, in a statement.

Added Amy Elkins, evp, media and marketing innovation, STXfilms, in a statement, “Our focus is to align with partners who invest in driving business outcomes via effective data activation and measurement.”

This is the Audience Studios’ third campaign with STXfilms. Previously, the companies used third-party data to optimize their campaigns for last year’s films Mile 22 and Second Act against custom moviegoer audience segments. But this is the first time they used outcome-based guarantees.

NBCUniversal will work again with STXfilms on the campaign for its animated film UglyDolls, which will be released on May 3.

For NBCUniversal, this is the first step in a process to focus more on business outcomes and less on traditional ad buys using age and gender metrics. The company will scale its CFlight unified advertising metric across its whole portfolio this year and plans to roll out a new attribution offering shortly.

As it partners with other brands, NBCUniversal will look to guarantee performance outcomes for a variety of products, like car and CPG sales.

With today’s news, NBCUniversal joins other media companies that have begun offering performance-based guarantees over the past year. A+E Networks debuted its offering for some of its upfront inventory last year and now allows clients to optimize their campaign while it is still in progress, instead of having to wait until the conclusion to determine their ROI.

And last month, Turner said it will use data from Xandr, the advertising and analytics unit from new parent company AT&T, to offer performance-based guarantees. That will enable Turner to access AT&T’s set-top-box data for its attribution offering, instead of relying on third-party data.


@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.