How your brand can leverage live events - Brand Innovators

How your brand can leverage live events

In 2023, the majority of the top 100 most-watched telecasts were all live events. This news comes at a time when there have never been more options for on-demand viewing. So, we ask ourselves, why? Fueled by younger audiences, cultural moments, and emerging platforms, live event content is having a resurgence. In fact, Super Bowl LVIII had the largest audience since the 1969 Moon Landing and the Kentucky Derby with Mystic Dan’s win-by-a-nose finish drew its biggest audience since 1989. Streaming platforms are investing and benefiting from live content, with Peacock’s exclusive NFL Wild Card game featuring the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs becoming the most-streamed live event in U.S. history. The Netflix Roast of Tom Brady became its sixth most-watched show ever. Red Carpet and Award Shows are also back, with the 96th Annual Academy Awards achieving a 4-year audience high. 

Today, live events are a true cultural force, fostering a dynamic relationship between video screens and captivated consumers, creating a powerful and effective vehicle for advertising.

The Appeal of Live Events 

At the heart of this effectiveness are elements of immediacy and authenticity. Live broadcasts offer a real-time connection with viewers, creating an unparalleled sense of urgency and engagement. The authenticity of live programming adds credibility to the experience. While consumers are faced with highly produced commercials and sponsored content, these fresh, live broadcasts stand out as genuine and trustworthy. Viewers perceive brands featured within live content as more reliable, which enhances the appeal and persuasiveness. This authenticity is especially crucial in today’s market, where consumers value transparency and genuineness in brand communication. For example, an iconic property like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, first televised on NBC in 1953 and now simulstreamed on Peacock, experienced the biggest ratings ever in 2023. Marketers experienced stronger ad message memorability by 100%, an increase in brand memorability by 62% and double the message memorability compared to advertisements in competitive programming. 

The communal nature of live television fosters a deeper shared experience among viewers. Whether it’s gathering with family and friends to watch a sporting event, participating in a live chat during a talk show, or commenting live on a social platform, live programming creates a sense of community and belonging. Communal viewing amplifies peer influence which drives brand advocacy, further reinforcing the efficacy of live content.

In addition to its immediate impact, live event programming provides a unique platform for storytelling that unfolds in real-time. Brands can seamlessly weave their message into the fabric of the broadcast through product placements and integrated marketing, creating a cohesive and memorable experience for viewers. The rise of second-screen engagement has transformed live television into a multi-dimensional experience. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices, viewers are active participants in the viewing experience. Advertisers capitalize on this trend by deploying complementary strategies such as interactive ads, synchronized content, or social media activations. Brands extend their reach and engagement beyond the television screen, maximizing the impact of their advertising efforts.

How To Win in Live Events

The power of live programming comes with explicit benefits for marketers, yet there is an art to advertising within these unique experiences.  As someone who is speaking with brands daily on how to best reach their target audiences while participating in cultural moments, here are my five best practices.

  1. Strive for contextual and dynamic creative: Whether through thematic ties or IP usage, contextually relevant commercials and custom content perform better and add a layer of authenticity. Added dynamic content delivers customized video ads that resonate with individual viewers. Real-time data such as location, demographics, or browsing history can be used to dynamically adjust elements of the advertising, such as messaging, imagery, or offers, to match the viewer’s profile and context.
  2. Amplify with strategic targeting: Advanced audience targeting strategies ensure your ads reach the most relevant viewers during live broadcasts. Leverage data analytics and audience insights to identify specific segments of your target audience and tailor your ads to their preferences, behaviors, and interests. With the introduction of programmatic advertising available in live streaming, the stage has been democratized to include advertisers of all sizes.
  3. Tap into the power of live: Integrate live streaming capabilities into ads to leverage the popularity of live content, create real-time connections and encourage active participation. Live elements such as Q&A sessions, product demonstrations, shoppable overlays or behind-the-scenes looks add authenticity and interactivity. 
  4. Surround the event with multi-screen synchronization: Build a connection pre, during and post event to strengthen the connection to the live event. Leverage multi-screen synchronization to create cohesive cross-channel experiences for viewers across different devices and platforms. Plan video campaigns with complementary content or interactive experiences on other channels, such as social media to reinforce messaging and drive deeper engagement. 
  5. Consider advanced storytelling techniques: Experiment with advanced storytelling capabilities to create compelling and emotionally resonant narratives leave a lasting impression. Immersive video formats create interactive experiences that transport viewers into the heart of the action. Use interactive platforms to enable viewers to explore different perspectives, environments, or storylines within the advertising. 

Live broadcasts provide consumers with a dynamic and engaging experience, bringing people together. The power of live is our ability to seamlessly connect the consumer experience with the advertising experience, capitalizing on the excitement of the moment, and driving meaningful interactions and outcomes. 

Simply, the power of live is real, and you’re only live once.

Karen Kovacs, is president of client partnerships at NBCUniversal.