Unlocking Reach in Premium Content

Mike LevinProduct Management, NBCU

Emily KwokSenior Director, Ad Experience Measurement, NBCU

NBCU’s Mike Levin and Emily Kwok tested brand safety in premium video content from a viewer perspective in their research using NBCU’s proprietary AI tech for automating brand safety and suitability decision making. The study’s three objectives asked whether increasingly violent episodes influence viewers’ experiences, if they then assign blame to marketers for knowingly advertising in explicit or violent content, and if there are specific instances where adjacency affects viewer sentiment towards an ad. Measuring unconscious response to nine episodes across two seasons tagged with three levels of risk, facial coding and eye gaze technology, complemented by traditional surveys, captured the impact on a nationally representative sample of 1,800 respondents. Finding that violent episodes maintained stable levels of attention, the study also determined that traces of negative emotion were scarcer in the more violent episodes.

Key Takeaways

  • From the mildest episodes to the most violent, viewer attention remained stable. Attention to high risk episodes measured in at 51.5%, with attention to low-risk episodes at 51.4%.
  • Viewers don’t attribute blame to advertisers. “There’s more reward than risk,” according to Emily. Viewers tend to enjoy brands that are sponsoring the content they love, controversial or not—8 in 10 agree that they don’t distrust brands that advertise in graphic TV shows.
  • Several rare cases where gratuitous violence immediately preceding an ad break did carry negative sentiment into the first seconds of the ad.

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New Lenses on Brand Identity

  • Summary by Hannah Stone (Verizon), Young Pros Officer

This ARF Cognition Council event explored how brands can improve consumers’ perceptions of their pro-social messaging based on insights from fresh analyses of data from a variety of sources. Experts from Ipsos, Dartmouth College and Research Measurement Technologies shed light on a diverse range of research on ways that brands can convey pro-social messages in their advertising.

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Where Has All the Advertising Gone? (Event Summary)


This Insights Studio hosted one of the industry’s brightest minds, Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer at System1 Group and author of the best-selling book Lemon (IPA, 2019). Wood presented a unique combination of neuroscience, cultural history and advertising research to describe a change in advertising style that has occurred over the last 15 years and link this to falling advertising effectiveness. The event also featured a moderated discussion with Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy at IPA and Scott McDonald, Ph.D., CEO and President of the ARF.

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Ambush Marketing: New Moves and Tactics

  • Nicholas Burton (Brock University) and Simon Chadwick (Salford University Manchester)

How can you protect your brand from an “ambush”? Evolving ambush marketing tactics spurred researchers in Canada and the U.K. to undertake the task of redefining the different forms and offering practical guidance and strategies to both sides of the practice.

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