Episode 128
October 4, 2019

Bringing Commerce Closer: Audience First

"The intersection of content and commerce" asks the question - would you buy Cheesy Blasters while watching 30 Rock? Odds are, you would. And that's the bet that NBC/Universal is placing on investing in bringing DTC brands to their large audiences across their portfolio of original programming and content. From Goop to the Minions we go deep on the opportunity at hand with Evan Moore. Listen now!

this episode sponsored by

"The intersection of content and commerce" asks the question - would you buy Cheesy Blasters while watching 30 Rock? Odds are, you would. And that's the bet that NBC/Universal is placing on investing in bringing DTC brands to their large audiences across their portfolio of original programming and content. From Goop to the Minions we go deep on the opportunity at hand with Evan Moore. Listen now!

Main Takeaways:

  • In today's episode, Brian and Phillip are joined by the Vice President of Content and eCommerce at NBCUniversal, Evan Moore.
  • Over-personalization has started to run rampant, so how do you battle against too much personalization?
  • NBCUniversal has taken a content-first strategy across its vast portfolio to create meaningful marketplaces and platforms for different verticals.
  • Empowered creatives are becoming the driving force in the commerce powerhouses of the future.

A Brief History of Evan: The Intersection of Content and Commerce:

  • For the past 11-12 years, Evan has worked mainly in a digital product capacity for several different companies (e.g. Ticketmaster, Goop, Beautycounter) all at the intersection of content and commerce.
  • At Goop, Evan had the opportunity to put the commerce and content strategy into the world and drive a lot of massive commerce scale using Goop's strong content.
  • NBCUniversal was trying to do something similar so they hired Evan to execute the same strategies at scale across their entire content portfolio.
  • How did Evan merge the content and commerce to create successful brands?

The Goop Story: From Email Newsletter to a Commerce Powerhouse:

  • Brian mentions that Goop is one of the first examples he can think of that has a brand taking an email newsletter and turning it into a commerce powerhouse, but how did that happen?
  • Goop has been around for about eleven years and the first six years it was mainly an email newsletter that had recipes that Gwyneth Paltrow wanted to send to her friends.
  • Over the next six years, Goop grew organically and built equity with its audience around some lucrative content verticals like clean beauty, high-end fashion, travel, and home goods.
  • Just in the last few years, Goop kicked its monetization into high gear by giving brand partners great exposure to its audience and finally launching its eCommerce marketplace.

Plagued by Targeting: What is Too Much Personalization?:

  • Having content comes first establishes ideals and allows your audience to almost fanatically align with a brand's ideals.
  • Really good content is the antidote to over-personalization of the internet and there are fewer companies that have harnessed the power of storytelling better than NBCUniversal.
  • Retargeting algorithms are effective at driving lower funnel activity, but they are not cognizant of who the customer actually is. (Phillip apparently doesn't avidly love toilet seats.)
  • Even with how far AI technology has come, we still don't understand how people identify themselves of the meaning they derive from the products that they buy.

The Antidote: Combating Over-Personalization

  • The stories that we tell and that we read are how we connect with each other and with the rest of the world, which inevitably informs our decisions on what we consume and the brands that we align ourselves with.
  • NBCUniversal reaches a massive part of the US audience lets brands tell stories that its massive viewer base can connect with.
  • Create your audience first and then decide what the need before you create a product.
  • As we get to a place where more and more content is becoming niche, if a brand has a message that you don't relate to, it will be harder to align with that brand.

Shop With Golf: Capturing a Coveted Demographic:

  • The first result of NBCUniversal playing with its new content and commerce model is Shop With Golf, a part of the Gold ecosystem of brands.
  • The site fills a white space within the golf that features lifestyle content that relates to golfers, which is a sought after demographic. (Golf is Goop for men.)
  • Over the past six months, 45 different brands have been featured on Shop With Golf.
  • Bill Murray and his brothers even did a music video for Shop With Golf.

Next Steps: Expanding the Model:

  • NBCUniversal is looking at how to apply the model used for Shop With Golf across the entire NBC portfolio.
  • While looking at their portfolio, the goal is still to create a marketplace of interesting brands and providing them a platform to tell engaging stories around relevant contact that reaches audiences that care about those stories.
  • Evan clarifies that NBCUniversal is not trying to compete with retailers, but are becoming a channel for both consumer/packaged goods brands and direct-to-consumer brands.
  • What Evan and NBCUniversal are doing could be an antidote to brands like Away and Amazon are doing.

Bringing Commerce Closer: Purchasing in the Moment:

  • Evan joins both Brian and Phillip in their excitement about up and coming shoppable formats.
  • Consumers are more willing to transact wherever they are when they are using their digital devices.
  • The eCommerce experience is no longer a differentiator as much as it is a commodity.
  • Can consumer demand create enough need for brands and marketplaces to pursue options for consumers to purchase at the moment they see a product?

Defying Expectations: Empowered Creatives Driving Progress:

  • Phillip asks Evan what it's like bringing transformational initiatives to a larger organization and how that compares to his previous experience.
  • Evan would have expected to get more resistance to bringing in new ideas, but the hunger to grow that is present at NBCUniversal has been the opposite of his expectations.
  • Empowered creatives working with a plethora of resources and opportunity has proven to have quite the impact.
  • Evan has been able to do something different, impactful, and valuable to both consumers and brands on a massive scale.

Standing Out from the Pack: Artistry Leads the Way:

  • What should big merchants be doing to separate themselves from other brands?
  • Right now, artistry and creatives should lead the way in regards to where a brand's money ends up.
  • There is nothing more important right now than telling stories.
  • Brands that tell stories and can capture the values and ideals of their customers in a content form are going to be the brands that stand out.

The Future Commerce Send-Off: Predictions for the Future:

  • Evan predicts a decentralization of marketplaces occurring at the same time as a proliferation of content channels and commerce will stay closely coupled to the content.
  • The antidote to becoming over-personalized is having empowered creatives that are looking at data and making creative decisions about what that data means.
  • Brands should be taking a second look at television and the scale that companies like NBCUniversal can bring to brands is a huge opportunity for direct-to-consumer brands.
  • The wall between digital video and television and the difference between the two is almost negligible.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! How can you use storytelling to reach customers and connect with their values?

Let us know in the content section on Futurecommerce.fm, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin.

Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at mailto:hello@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels; we love hearing from our listeners!

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Phillip: [00:00:16] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:00:21] And I'm Brian. And today we have a really interesting guest, someone we've been trying to get on the show for a long time. Not sure...

Phillip: [00:00:27] For years.

Brian: [00:00:28] Yeah. Oh, man, it has been years. It's so exciting to have him on. He is super smart guy. Evan Moore, Vice President of Content and Commerce at NBC Universal. Welcome, Evan.

Evan: [00:00:42] Thank you guys so much. I'm really excited to be here. And it's been like a couple of years now since we've been talking, huh?

Brian: [00:00:46] Yes. Just about, I think.

Evan: [00:00:48] I'm psyced to finally be here.

Brian: [00:00:50] So are we.

Phillip: [00:00:51] I told Brian if we want to get someone of Evan's stature, we have to prove ourselves. And so, you know, we devised a plan to make ourselves just important enough to have you on. But we met you when you were still over at Goop.

Evan: [00:01:09] That's right.

Phillip: [00:01:10] And maybe, for people who don't know who you are and know your background and your role over there at NBC Universal, give us a little bit about yourself.

Evan: [00:01:17] Oh, sure, absolutely. So, yeah, I'm the Vice President of Content and Commerce over here at NBC Universal. For the past eleven or twelve years, I've been working mostly in a digital product capacity, actually, for a number of different companies, all at the intersection of content and commerce. So some past places I've been includes Ticketmaster. Prior to joining here, like we mentioned, I was the Head of Digital Product over at Goop. And then a few years before that, I was at a direct to consumer company called Beauty Counter, which is also killing it these days.

Phillip: [00:01:47] Oh yeah.

Evan: [00:01:48] Yeah. Yeah. So the last couple of years over a Goop, I really had a chance to put the content and commerce strategy into the world and drive a lot of massive commerce scale using the power of Goop's really strong content. And and that was kind of what brought me over here to NBC. They're trying to do something very similar. They liked what I was doing over at Goop and wanted to see if I could apply those same strategies at scale across their content portfolio.

Brian: [00:02:12] Wow, yeah. So Goop is like the first really strong example that I can think of of taking an email newsletter and turning into a commerce powerhouse.

Evan: [00:02:25] Yeah.

Brian: [00:02:26] Tell us a little bit about how that happened.

Evan: [00:02:29] Yeah. You know, it's funny. Everybody thinks that Goop kind of came out of the woodwork just in the last few years. But as a company, they've been around for, I think over 11 years now, just about that. And for the first six years of Goop's existence, they were just really a simple email newsletter. I think that at first, when they first started publishing it, it was really just recipes to begin with. It was just recipes that Gwyneth Paltrow wanted to send out to her group of 5000 friends that she had at the time. She's a very, very big friend circle. And, you know, over the subsequent six years, it grew organically, and she really built a lot of equity with her audience around some really amazing and lucrative content verticals like, you know, clean beauty, high end fashion, travel, home goods. And then just in the last three or four years, really started to turn on the faucet in terms of monetization and working together with brand partners to give them some really great brand exposure to our audience and doing great integrations and retail integrations and experiential integrations. And then just a few years ago, actually launching their own e-commerce marketplace that started off as just being a multi-brand marketplace featuring products from those verticals that I mentioned, but then they also layered on top of that their own private label brands, including that the G. Label fashion line, their own line of wellness vitamins called Goop Wellness, and then also their line of clean beauty products. They really been a leader in the clean beauty space, which proved to be quite a smart move. It's something that's kind of a massive movement these days, in the likes of Sephora and other giant retailers are getting into the game, as well. So it was really cool to be there in those last couple of years and see them go from, you know, a company that is doing somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars in revenue up to where they are now, which is I don't know what their revenue numbers are now, but by the time I left, they had more than quadrupled the size of the business.

Phillip: [00:04:24] Yeah.

Brian: [00:04:25] Wow.

Phillip: [00:04:25] That's super impressive. What's interesting about having the content play that's coming first, we're seeing this in a lot of areas, but having content first really establishes ideals and allows you to have an audience that, you know, sort of fanatically or passionately can align with your ideals. I'm curious how you can take that kind of a career arc where you're building e-commerce or commerce that's centered around maybe a set of ideals or ideologies and then sort of frame that in the world of a content first media organization in your role moving over to NBC. Give us a little bit of an idea of how you think that fits in the world where you're heading and what NBC Universal might be trying to do with that sort of a skill set that you have.

Evan: [00:05:14] Yeah, for sure. I mean, if Goop spent a long time just building their audience before they started turning to commerce. NBC spent a long time, as well. I think it's been, you know, one hundred years of building out our content or our audience. And the effect that you have there is that [00:05:31] you build connection with your audience, you build trust with them. And, you know, I always kind of say that I think really good content is the antidote to over personalization of the Internet. Right? Personalization algorithms have to start somewhere to decide what to show you. And that starts with who you are. And more and more these days, people identify themselves by the stories that they read and the stories they tell about themselves as a result of that. And NBC is... I can't think of a better storytelling organization in the world over the last many decades than what NBC Universal represents today. [00:06:09]

Brian: [00:06:10] You said "over personalization" there. Go into a little more detail on what you meant by that, because I think that's an interesting concept.

Evan: [00:06:19] I think we've all experienced this right? We do a little bit of shopping on the Internet, and then apparently we're the biggest fan of washing machines. {laughter}

Brian: [00:06:25] Yes. Yes, totally. I've got that...

Phillip: [00:06:31] I have a story about buying a toilet seat on Amazon. And then for the next two years, they thought I had an insatiable desire for more toilet seats. {laughter}

Evan: [00:06:40] Yeah. And, you know, [00:06:42] those algorithms are effective at driving that lower funnel activity and really closing the sale with the user. But they're not cognizant of who that person actually is. And I think that, you know, with everywhere we've gone with neural networks and machine learning, we still don't understand how people identify themselves and what meaning they derive from the products that they buy. And that's really going to be hard for machines to do. [00:07:06]

Brian: [00:07:07] Yeah. And Phillip might be a toilet seat connoisseur, but it's not the only thing he cares about, you know. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:07:14] Wait until I launch my venture backed e-mail newsletter to my 5000 closest friends that also care about toilet seats.

Evan: [00:07:23] I mean, I haven't seen a direct to consumer toilet seat company really come in and disrupt the space.

Phillip: [00:07:28] But there is direct to consumer toilet paper.

Brian: [00:07:32] Yes.

Evan: [00:07:32] Is there?

Phillip: [00:07:34] Yeah. There is an interesting company called Bippy, who has never purchased from, but I love the name. But it's an emerging category, I think maybe direct to consumer toilet seats might be a thing.

Brian: [00:07:47] Yeah, but [00:07:48] my point in saying that was like maybe you do care about the thing you're seeing a lot, but it's not the only thing you care about. And it's like you get stuck down these like personalization holes, and it's like you can't get out of them. [00:08:01] So talk to us about the antidote a little bit. Why is content the antidote?

Evan: [00:08:06] Yeah. You know, [00:08:07] the stories that we tell, and the stories that we read are kind of how we connect with the world. It is how we connect with each other. It's how we decide the kind of person that we want to be in the world. And based off of those things that we tell ourselves, it's what we decide to consume and the brands that we decide to align ourselves with. [00:08:24] And so I think the position that NBCU occupies that's really interesting and super defensible is that we reach a massive part of the US audience. And I think the status is that in any four weeks we're in 90% of US homes through some form of media, whether that's television or digital, telling stories that those people care about and providing an amazing platform for brands to then tell their stories and create connections with that audience. And that's something that is upstream of any sort of recommendation algorithm that you might encounter on your traditional e-commerce retailer. That is upstream of any sort of a marketplace or targeted app.

Brian: [00:09:09] It's interesting. Phillip and I've talked about this before maybe offline more than on the show, actually. [00:09:15] But the idea of building an audience first, even before doing market research. It's like, you have stories to tell. Tell those stories, and then figure out what market your audience...what you can sell to that audience. Figure about what they care about, what they need, and and then build the business. So it's audience, then market, then your products. [00:09:37]

Evan: [00:09:37] Yeah. [00:09:38] Because intrinsic in building an audience first is having something to say first. Right? And actually finding message market fit before you actually find product market fit. [00:09:47]

Brian: [00:09:47] Well and that gets back to what Phillip was asking about before, which was sort of building authentic content that's value based, that's stuff that you care about. And I think that Gwyneth did a very, very good job of writing about what she was passionate about, and I think that it resonated with a lot of people. And so therefore, it was easy to swing back around and make make a lot of money off of it. {laughter}

Evan: [00:10:18] And I think that's a really interesting model to learn from, because what we're going to see here is that [00:10:24] the more the content resonates with one group of people, it's going to be dissonant to a whole another group of people. Right? So the reaction that you see from anybody that doesn't like Goop is that Goop is terrible. And as we get to a place where more and more content is niche, that's going to be more and more comment where, you know, if it's not something that you care about, then you're really not going to relate. And that just means that it's more and more important for brands to be putting themselves next to the sorts of stories that really align with their brand. [00:10:51]

Phillip: [00:10:53] So let's talk about your role at NBC Universal and what plans you might have to help tell more focused stories and align those directly to a more linear commerce experience.

Evan: [00:11:10] Sure, absolutely. So one thing that we've launched over here at NBC Universal that's really our first example of us playing around with this content and commerce model is a site that we launched back in March. It's called Shop with Golf. It is part of the Gulf ecosystem of brands that we're affiliated with, the Golf Channel, Golf Advisor, our Revolution Golf. And what we're really doing is filling a white space for the golf audience with a lifestyle content destination speaking towards the golf lifestyle. We're not publishing content about how far to hit the ball. It's not about performance. It's not coverage of the game, but it's lifestyle content that relates to golfers. Which golfers are actually a super sought after demographic, you know, high income, discretionary spending, leisure time... In a lot of ways, golf is Goop for men. That's kind of one thing that I was kind of counter with, and so the second...

Phillip: [00:12:08] I promise I'm not going to make that the show title. {laughter} I promise.

Brian: [00:12:12] You liar. You liar.

Evan: [00:12:13] I mean, because there are a lot of similarities between Goop and golf. Four letters, they both start with G O... Golf is also something that makes people feel kind of bad about themselves. Anyway... {laughter} Yeah, but what I'm getting to is that Shop with Golf really speaks to the 360 golf lifestyle. It's a sport of a lifetime. And everyone's favorite golfer is themselves. And so they really identify. It's a vertical people really identify as a golfer. And it's been a really interesting experience to, you know, at the same time as we're standing up a content destination and building a voice and an editorial authority around a content space to actually also at the same time ramp up a really interesting marketplace of brands that are featured next to that content. So just over the past six months, we've actually brought over 44 different brands, 45 brands onto the marketplace right now. And not just your straightforward big box retailer golf brands that you'll find anywhere, but really niche, high end, fashion forward golf brands like Rhone, Foray Golf, Cricket, Linksoul, J.Lindbergh, William Murray Golf... And actually at the launch of Shop with Golf, we did a really fantastic campaign where Bill Murray and his brothers actually produced and shot an original music video for the Shop with Golf launch, which... If you haven't seen it, you have to go find it. You can find an our site... shopwithgolf.com or on YouTube. It was really just fantastic to be working with them and to have that commercial. And, you know, it was a really great way to launch the brand. And working really closely with the Golf Channel, they've been super appreciative of us creating this content space that hasn't really existed before for the average golfer. And also to be kind of tapping into this real zeitgeist movement that's going on around golf to put something out in the world that's much more akin to what you might have seen with skate or surf wear 20 or 30 years ago. And we really do see that there's a movement of these younger direct to consumer brands that are appealing towards people that want to take golf and bring it into their whole lifestyle. And so that's been really, really fun and really great to work with. And I've had a great time with that myself.

Phillip: [00:14:43] I mean, not for nothing. It's probably because everybody that was in the skate or surf culture is now old enough to be playing golf.

Evan: [00:14:49] That's exactly right. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:14:51] But I think that... Actually I was kidding. But I might actually ascribe to that idea, which is that there is a certain type of a consumer who is, you know, more prone to want to identify with that kind of content or lifestyle marketing that can weave stories in and out of their actual needs or apparel needs, or their way to identify with a lifestyle. And that is that customer. They just grew up, which is super interesting.

Evan: [00:15:26] Yep. Yep. And, you know, the thing we're hearing from the brands that we're working with is that they are super appreciative to actually have a platform to tell their stories. And then that's the main learning that I'm taking away from this, is that we have the ability to provide platforms for brands to tell stories, and then we can help them tell those stories in ways that are relevant to the audiences that we reach, that articulate their brand values, and that actually drive real direct commerce to those brands.

Phillip: [00:15:55] I cynically was thinking when we started this that we were just going to only be talking about how we can sell more Minions to people watching Minions. I'm sure somebody somewhere on your side is thinking of that. But it's a super interesting play to start with golf. What do you think? How does that mature? You're building a marketplace then?

Evan: [00:16:19] Yup. Yeah. We're definitely building a marketplace. And, you know, we're looking in the future in 2020 towards how can we do this at scale across a whole portfolio. And that might take a different form than what Shop of Golf has taken. I think that like I said before, there was a white space in terms of content out there already for the golf audience. Nobody is writing about the golf lifestyle and golf apparel or any of the related products or brands in the way that we're doing that right now. But that's not similarly true about verticals like beauty or fashion or home. [00:16:49] And so when we're looking at our portfolio brands that we have here, like Bravo and E, there might be different ways in which that manifests itself. But, you know, it's still going to take the form of creating a marketplace of really interesting brands, providing them a platform to tell super engaging stories around relevant content, and then reaching audiences that care about it. [00:17:08]

Brian: [00:17:08] Wow. What I'm hearing is that NBC is not going to be launching their own sort of brands to compliment these shows. Is that true?

Evan: [00:17:20] Well. I can't confirm necessarily what the specific results are gonna be. What I can say is that our position here is not to try to compete with retailers. We are not going to be a retailer.

Brian: [00:17:31] Right.

Evan: [00:17:32] But we are trying to become, and are becoming, a channel for both retailers, consumer packaged goods brands, and then really I think DTC brands are a big part of that, as well going forward.

Phillip: [00:17:44] They stand the most to gain because they need to connect with an audience. And it's harder for them now than ever to connect with that audience. As customer acquisition costs are on the rise.

Evan: [00:17:55] Yeah, and if you look at what's going on with Away and Amazon right now, I think that what we're doing can serve as a really effective antidote for brands like that.

Phillip: [00:18:03] Well shopwithminions.com is available if you want it, Evan. {laughter}

Evan: [00:18:07] You know, the Minions, they sell themselves. {laughter} Yeah, you just let them go.

Brian: [00:18:14] Speaking of which, what about the sort of bringing commerce even closer to the customer, to the viewer, to the audience... In context purchasing is an exciting thing that is ahead for all of us, I think. I think back to the Web Smith, 2pm tweet about, "Why can't you just buy Netflix merch in the moment?" I can imagine NBC has got to be thinking about that.

Phillip: [00:18:44] I mean, Peacock is coming. That was just announced.

Evan: [00:18:47] Yup, Peacock is around the corner. Yeah, absolutely. You know, [00:18:52] I am a huge, huge believer and proponent of shoppable formats across digital mediums. I think it's just in the last 18 months, you've seen all of the major social platforms launch some form of shoppable format, including Instagram Checkout, Snapchat... Tik Tok just announced theirs just a few weeks ago. So now the Chinese government will be able to see what we're all buying. [00:19:14]

Brian: [00:19:17]  [00:19:17]{laughter}

Phillip: [00:19:17] Yeah.

Evan: [00:19:18] And [00:19:18] I think, to your point, what it's showing is that consumers are more willing to transact wherever they are when they're using their digital devices. And that the actual e-commerce experience is no longer a differentiator as much as it is a commodity. And so some of the bigger e-commerce retail brands are really putting themselves in the position of just competing on selection, price, and logistics, which is not a super exciting place to be, especially when you're trying to push high margin luxury brands. [00:19:49]

Phillip: [00:19:50] Yeah.

Brian: [00:19:50] So true.

Phillip: [00:19:53] Well, I think that one trap that we see that... Well, it's very difficult to create a brand that deserves being somewhere for sale. But I think if you had an interesting content to brand or content to... I think... This is a half formed thought, which, by the way, is sort of a theme for me on the show.

Brian: [00:20:16] Both of us.

Phillip: [00:20:16] But, you think about the effect that like a Rick and Morty can have in the zeitgeist of having the Szechuan sauce coming back to McDonald's... I do think that Szechuan sauce will not be at McDonald's forever, but it is a hallmark of the kind of thing that a consumer demand can create based on media. [00:20:40] I have to wonder if having the content that you have, if I'm watching 30 Rock, and Liz Lemon talks about Cheesy Blasters, I would buy Cheesy Blasters at the moment. {laughter} I would. [00:20:52]

Brian: [00:20:52] There's the brand play. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:20:53] Yeah, yeah, yeah. [00:20:55] The brand play really is is that things don't have to be durable and lasts forever, but I might want them in the moment. And you provide the portal for the opportunity for me to want that in the moment. It doesn't have to live forever. It can live for as long as I care about it. [00:21:08]

Evan: [00:21:10]  [00:21:10]Yeah. And I think that you were seeing that at a larger scale when you look at brands like what the Kardashians have done. And when you look at what's going on with Glossier, where fandom and interest around either personalities or content itself is then creating a market, and the connection between, or the line between, where the content starts and the brand it begins, it really starts to blur. And it just shows that people are buying stories. They're not buying goods anymore. [00:21:38]

Brian: [00:21:39] Maybe we don't know how the brands anymore.

Evan: [00:21:41] Yeah.

Brian: [00:21:41] I mean, maybe we just call them stories or like something else. [00:21:46] I don't know what the term would be, but effectively it's either the story lasts longer or it lasts shorter. It might just be a quick hit, and people that are selling that story or brand need to recognize what kind of story they're telling. Short form or long form. [00:22:03]

Evan: [00:22:04] Absolutely. And by the way, I wanted to make sure we don't skip over a Meat Cat reference in the Cheesy Blasters thing you mentioned there. {laughter}  By far, my favorite throw off character from 30 Rock.

Phillip: [00:22:15] One hundred percent. And then he hops on a skateboard and flies away. Thanks Meat Cat. Freaking amazing. If you were to look at your takeaway. So you're in a very prestigious organization. I'm sure you have...doing things probably is not the hardest. I mean, probably not the easiest thing. You're building... You're in a larger organization these days. I wonder if you could sort of compare and contrast what it's like bringing these types of transformational and almost experimental initiatives inside of a larger organization. How that compares with your prior experience?

Evan: [00:23:02] You know, it's really been interesting is coming into a place that, you know, has been just successful for such a long period of time, [00:23:11] I would have expected to get more resistance to bringing in new ideas. And it's been exactly the opposite. The hunger that is here to innovate and to continue to grow and to push the envelope and to not just match what other competitors are doing in the marketplace, but to go diagonal and actually get somewhere new ahead of them has been really, really exciting. [00:23:34] And specifically where I'm at with an NBC Universal is surrounded by a whole lot of creative people. And I've never been in a space to be surrounded by so many empowered creatives working with so many resources and so much opportunity to actually have an impact. And that's really what got me over here. That's really what is exciting to me is the ability to do something different, impactful, valuable, both to consumers and to brands. And then just do it at such a massive scale.

Brian: [00:24:05] So what you're saying is you have the latitude to create the Pontiac Aztek.

Evan: [00:24:13] {laughter} That is an under appreciated car. The Pontiac Aztek.

Brian: [00:24:18] I loved that episode of 30 Rock. Yeah. No, it's great. It's it's really cool to hear that you have so much freedom within such a big organization. Like you said, it seems like big organizations that do focus on creative have the most potential. I think that's a takeaway that I'm hearing here. What should big companies, big merchants, be doing in order to separate themselves from other people? [00:24:47] I think right now we have this moment in time where artistry and creatives should lead the way. They should be number one. If we talk about where the money ends up in this whole process, they should be the ones that end up with the money because they're the ones that are ultimately going to be the rainmakers when it comes to capturing attention, and writing these stories, building these brands, you know, creating this content. [00:25:16]

Evan: [00:25:16] Absolutely.

Brian: [00:25:17]  [00:25:17]I think this is artist moment here and now. And big companies, big merchants should be paying attention to what NBC Universal is doing. Because you guys, I think you've got it right. [00:25:27]

Evan: [00:25:29] I mean, obviously, I agree with you. I think especially when you look in the world of CPG [00:25:33] brands, what is more important right now for them than telling stories? When the story is the only thing that stands between them and being an AmazonBasics product. [00:25:42]

Phillip: [00:25:42] Yeah. Yeah.

Brian: [00:25:44] Oh my gosh, yes.

Phillip: [00:25:45] And there is an interesting story developing there, too, around the way things are packaged and how beautiful a target can execute next to the old tried and trues that are on the shelf next to it. You know, more millennial centric, more millennial aesthetic is actually becoming more broadly appealing to everybody. So I guess let me ask you this. Where do you see the future playing out as far as building out marketplaces? You said it's becoming more niche and more focused. How do you create inside of a company that has content across so many different areas? And we've joked about it here, but truthfully, do you see hundreds and hundreds of marketplaces, or is there some grand consolidation that has to happen in the end?

Evan: [00:26:39]  [00:26:40]What I see going on in the future is the decentralization of marketplaces at the same time as the proliferation of multiple content channels. And I think that the commerce is going to stay attached to the content, you know, closely coupled to the content, wherever it is, across whatever platform, whatever medium. And the targeting of, the niche of, the marketplace really is going to come into play in terms of how well the content is actually targeted towards the person that's consuming it. And then how well the commerce is actually aligned to that content. [00:27:09]

Phillip: [00:27:11] Yeah. And you have a unique vantage point to be able to, now more than ever, know who's interacting with the content and try to personalize it to them. Do you feel like you fall prey to the same type of trap in sort of boxing people into a certain quants, segments of the things they want? Like how do you introduce then, in your world, that serendipity for them to discover things that they wouldn't otherwise have seen?

Evan: [00:27:37] And I think that gets back to working within a world of empowered creatives. [00:27:42] Obviously, the quantitative analysis is an input, but what it really serves to is a super important constraint to the creative process. So the antidote to becoming over personalized is having empowered creatives that are looking at the data and then making creative decisions about what that data actually means, as opposed to just trying to serve immediately what they're seeing in front of their face. [00:28:06] Like the adage that I would fall back on is that Henry Ford, "If I listened to the consumer, I would have built a faster horse." [00:28:13] You don't take the data as gospel for what you're doing next. You just understand that as an input for what should happen next. [00:28:20]

Brian: [00:28:20] You've got to get out ahead of the consumer. They don't have the vision to know what they really want. You're sort of saying Apple is right.

Evan: [00:28:29] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think that, you know, Tim Cook is getting a lot of flack right now because they haven't rolled out anything that's necessarily a quantum leap. But we're at a point where it's going to take a lot of ingenuity and a lot of really creative thinking to do something really new. And I wouldn't be surprised to find a couple of years Apple comes out and does something that none of us are even predicting right now.

Brian: [00:28:52] I'll predict it. I think it's healthcare, something healthcare related. Tim's come out and said they want Apple to be remembered for their advancements in healthcare more than anything else they've ever done. I think that there's gonna be a huge...some sort of very large leap in the world of personal healthcare monitoring that Apple's going to release here soon.

Phillip: [00:29:11] And I'm making note of when you said this, so we don't have to spend six months finding it later when it happens, because that's usually what happens to us.

Brian: [00:29:18] That's true.

Evan: [00:29:20] There's something very troublesome to me right now that the people that are trying to fix healthcare are Apple and Walmart.

Brian: [00:29:24] And Amazon.

Evan: [00:29:27] Yeah. And Amazon. {laughter}

Brian: [00:29:29] And Warren Buffett. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:29:31] We're at a very interesting time in history, that's for sure. Evan, this has been such an amazing... It's like flown by, this last 30 minutes. It's been an amazing conversation. I'm curious what you think the future is for direct to consumer brands who are looking to engage new audience and what your role is there and maybe some advice you can give some that feel like they're struggling to get that audience. What are some steps that they could take to help grow and engage?

Evan: [00:30:07] Sure. So I think that they should be taking a second look at television and linear. That's one of the more exciting things that I heard when I was at the Commerce Next Conference, that I know both of you were also at, which [00:30:18] I heard a number of times different DTC brands saying with some surprise that the channel that they were seeing over perform and provide the most growth for them was actually television and linear. And and, I think that the scale that we can bring to them in terms of the size of our audience, the diversity of audiences that we reach, and the power and quality of the storytelling that we have, that we put in front of those audiences, is just a huge opportunity for DTC brands that are looking to take that leap and stop receiving the diminishing returns that they're getting from their traditional marketing channels. Everybody's seeing higher cost per acquisition of Facebook. Everybody seeing higher cost per acquisition on Instagram, and search is just completely untenable for most DTC brands. And what we offer is a place to just really go around that, directly connect with the consumer, tell your story, and do it at a national scale and a level of quality that's really hard to compete with. [00:31:16]

Brian: [00:31:17] I think that's really, really sage advice. I was just at Groceryshop, and Dirty Lemon or Iris Nova, their parent company... When they initially launched into the market, they were spending thirty thousand dollars a day on social.

Evan: [00:31:35] Wow.

Brian: [00:31:36] And that continued for a long time. But recently they got to the point, just in December, where they stopped doing all paid on Instagram and Facebook.

Phillip: [00:31:44] Wow.

Brian: [00:31:44] And Zak Normadin said that they're taking the company, and they're going like a hundered percent into video. Or no, he didn't say a hudnered percent. He said they're going to focus on video. They found it would be a much, much, much stronger channel. I can't help but imagine or guess that long form stories and television could be part of that.

Evan: [00:32:08]  [00:32:08]Absolutely. The wall between quote/unquote digital video and television is is crumbling right now, and the difference between those two things is almost negligible. And that is actually a fantastic development for us. [00:32:21]

Phillip: [00:32:21] How can people get in touch with you, Evan? Where can they find you on the Internet?

Evan: [00:32:25] If they want to see me never tweet. They can find me at @evomoore on Twitter. I also am on LinkedIn, and I also can be found never posting pictures on Instagram under also @evomoore.

Phillip: [00:32:40] You're really selling it. And Shop with Golf is a great place for them to engage with some brands,  if they're so inclined.

Evan: [00:32:49] Absolutely. Definitely check out ShopwithGolf.com. I'll also want to give you huge props to my team here, the content commerce team. They do a fantastic job every single day providing great stories and great opportunities for all of our brand partners, and also huge props to all of our brand partners on the Shop with Golf Marketplace who have been just fantastic to work with.

Phillip: [00:33:07] Wow, this has been great. Thank you so much, Evan Moore of NBC Universal. Thanks for joining us. And I thank you all for listening to Future Commerce. We want you to lend your voice to the story. You can best do that at FutureCommerce.fm or anywhere where podcasts are found. We really do appreciate your review. And go give us a five star. You can get us at Spotify or at Apple podcast, Google podcasts, or on any smart speaker device. And as we always say, we're not here just to predict the future, we give you tools and insights to help you shape your future. Thanks for listening.

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