NBCU Brings Ad Innovations to Local With Philadelphia Forum

NBC Local Innovation Forum

NBCUniversal will be showing local advertisers how they can take advantage of the same capabilities available to network sponsors at its inaugural Local Innovation Forum on Thursday.

The event forum, hosted by MSNBC host Ali Velshi, is being held at the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia, where Comcast is headquartered.

NBCU combined its stations’ local ad sales operations with the national sales organization under Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and partnerships in 2020.

"We've been in the local business since the very beginning of television, but things are changing so dramatically," Frank Comerford, chief revenue officer & president of sales, NBCUniversal Local, told Broadcasting+Cable.

"I've been at NBC for almost 30 years and only in the last year and a half have we been closely aligned with the network," Comerford said. "It's really been eye opening for me to see the amount of resources we have. We are much stronger together."

The Forum is designed to show local advertisers what NBCU can do for them in a changing business environment.

"There were certain tools and resources that were only available to larter national advertisers. And how we’re making those innovations available to everybody, especially on the local level," added Ric Harris, president and general manager of WCAU-TV, NBC’s station in Philadelphia. "The beauty of what we’re doing is that we’re creating solutions that are scalable, so no matter if you’re small, medium or large, all marketers can participate."

Among the resources NBCU offers are NBC Spot On, which gives advertisers access to local and national content, streaming provided by Peacock, over-the-top inventory that’s targetable down to the zip-code level, advanced audience measurement capabilities and creative partnerships.

NBCU has invited 50 local businesses to the first forum. The invitations included a questionnaire about business and advertising preferences. NBCU will use the answers to tailor its presentation and make sure that it is on point.

Harris said that Velshi was a good choice to host the event. He’s a Philadelphia resident and interested in business and marketing. "He understands the impact of advertising and marketing on the economy," he said.

In addition to discussions, attendees will tour Comcast Labs, the Comcast NBCU Lift Labs, which incubate tech start ups, and the local NBC and Telemundo stations, all of which are in the Comcast building.

Comerford said that this week’s event will be the first of many. Future events will be held in major markets, and some form of the event will be available everywhere, he said. 

He said that working closely with the network in this manner gives the NBC stations another advantage over their local competitors.

"We had an advantage to start because we have English language, Spanish language and our regional sports networks," he said. "We are we think best in class and will continue to be in helping our advertisers best market their message," he said. ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.