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3 actionable insights with… NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino

Trust, connection and impact are the three keys, says Yaccarino

The Drum’s 3 Actionable Insights series asks industry leaders to give us their thoughts on the actions our readers should take immediately. In this week’s installment (and as part of our deep dive into the future of TV) we catch up with Linda Yaccarino, chairman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal. At a time when viewing habits are undeniably changing, what does she think marketers should be doing when it comes to selecting partners, connecting with consumers and making sense of it all? Here’s what she has to say...

1. Invest in trust

Trust is the hardest thing to build and the easiest thing to lose. Trust is a verb. It’s the action you take and the choices you make every single day. Every company needs to build trust with people – their employees, customers and partners. All too often though, partnerships are about the value you can measure rather than the values you share.

The impact of shared values is immeasurable. There is so much optimism now that we are coming out on the other side of the pandemic. When you share values with your partners, that’s when things get amplified and change accelerates because you trust each other and you’re able to take those risks. That’s the moment you’re actually holding hands with your partner and you can do the never-been-done-before.

On a more granular level, trust is the actions you take and the choices you make every single day because you have to keep investing in it. It has to be a filter that influences every decision you make. Trust isn’t a given or a one-and-done deal. You need to earn it – and keep earning it, over and over and over again.

2. Choose connection

Marketers need to reach real people, where they actually are. Connection begins with attention. It means having a deep understanding of consumers and consumers’ needs.

Consumer behavior has changed forever. The consumer is multi-dimensional and they interact with media or products in their own unique ways. Content could be considered a product and they want it on their own terms. They can interact with a screen in their hand, a screen on a laptop or a big screen on their wall. You have got to meet them where they are. They live at that intersection of media and technology and that’s what sells any product so marketers have to think about it in that way.

At the same time, traditional media models are under attack because scale is becoming more and more elusive. You can’t make enough content today. It’s available on so many different platforms, so many different devices at any time, for the consumer to make that choice. Marketers have got to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes. They have to approach their media mix in the same way and be as diversified as possible to reach as many audiences as possible to attain what they used to in terms of reach.

We are very keen on consumer insights. You’re able to get into a position where you actually meet the customer where they are. And they are moving fast. They are moving at the speed of culture. Being able to move, simultaneously, to where the consumer is going and focusing your conversations on where the consumer is going to be – that’s where you can build really strong programs. To be successful, marketers must be very intentional about the programs that they build and have a very clear roadmap.

It pays off because people are craving authentic connections. And when you combine trust and connection, you’ve got something special. Trusted environment helps you forge lasting relationships. And together, you create true connection.

3. Embrace impact and measure it

Historically, measurement has not caught up with consumer behavior and, coming out of the past year, it’s never been more acute. Legacy standards limit results. So, let’s hold each other accountable and to new standards. With trusted partners and the right measurement, we can focus on the future and multiply our impact. And to determine our impact, we have to measure it. But imagine only measuring height in miles or weight in tons? A monolithic measurement approach can’t keep up with consumer behavior. So marketers need to plan for the future of measurement and meet consumers where they are. For real, meaningful impact, we need the right partners to build something new. Because conventional business wisdom says you should measure what matters. And, for brands, impact is everything.

The last year gave us the permission to really re-look at everything and ask ’why are we doing it the same way?’ All of our businesses were never going back to where we were. The past year has given us permission to change the things that we knew we needed to change. And it also gave us permission to challenge legacy. That has really focused all of our conversations on the future. We all feel kind of liberated to focus on what’s next.

From late April until early May, The Drum is taking a deep dive into what’s in store for the small screen as we launch our Future of TV hub. Meanwhile, you can check out more of our 3 Actionable Insights series here, and don’t forget to sign up for The Drum’s daily US email here.

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