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First advertiser to sign on to NBC Universal's Snapchat ad offering

Toyota has signed on to be the exclusive auto sponsor of NBC's "The Voice" for the next two seasons.

The automaker replaces Nissan, who was the official auto partner for four seasons of the reality singing competition. Kia also was an early sponsor of "The Voice."

Toyota is the first marketer to take advantage of NBC Universal's advertising offering on Snapchat. As part of the deal, Toyota is sponsoring "The Voice" Snapchat story, which consists of five, short-form videos that feature user-submitted performances. Based on these submissions, "The Voice" coaches select a contestant to appear on the broadcast premiere of the show.

NBCU struck a deal with Snapchat in August to produce original content for the platform. Aside from "The Voice," NBCU is also creating content around "Saturday Night Live" and "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," among others. The deal with Snapchat also includes an ad partnership that allows NBCU to sell Snapchat ad units as part of its packages.

Other elements of Toyota's partnership with "The Voice" are still being finalized, but will likely focus on telling the stories of the show's contestants, said Dan Lovinger, executive vice president of the entertainment advertising sales group at NBCU.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Whether we're involved in music festivals or purchasing new music equipment for schools, our goal is the same -- to identify and support emerging artists," Nancy Inouye, national media manager for Toyota Motor Sales USA, said in an email to Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News. "Being the exclusive automotive partner of 'The Voice' is an amazing way for Toyota to uncover budding music talent."

Emerging artists

Toyota has a long history in the discovery of emerging artists. For more than a decade, the Toyota Music Platform, through partnerships with concert series, music festivals and other programs, has supported the search for great music.

"Toyota is the first automotive partner that is excited to be a part of the artists' journey from blind audition to the live rounds," Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and reality programming for NBC, said in an email.

"They support our emerging musicians and that is extremely import to us."

Nissan strategy

Nissan decided not to re-up its deal with the series as its focuses on its College 100 program, the Heisman House campaign with the Heisman Trophy Trust, ESPN and ABC and its recently announced partnership with Lucasfilm for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

"Our strategy is about leveraging big cultural moments and integrating our brand into where consumers are driving popular conversation," Jeremy Tucker, vice president of marketing communications and media for Nissan North America, said in an email.

"The Voice" began its 11th cycle Monday night, with Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys joining Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in the judges' chairs.

While "The Voice" remains one of the highest-rated shows on TV (and it won another Emmy Award on Sunday night), viewership has dwindled. The season 10 finale in May was watched by 10.6 million viewers, down 8 percent from the 2015 spring finale. It pulled a 2.2 rating in the core 18-to-49 demo, off 24 percent from the year prior. And ratings hit a series low last season.

Despite some ratings fall-off, Telegdy expects "The Voice" to continue to drive large, live audiences.

"The nature of the show thrives on being live," he said. "From finding out which artists are moving on, to hearing the coach banter, viewers love the live aspects of our show."
Does anyone watch this show?
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