NBCU Using Data to Raise Value of TV Commercials

Taking aim at its digital competition, NBCUniversal says it can use data to find commercials within its broadcast and cable inventory that will target consumers with less waste and help clients achieve their marketing goals.

NBCU is calling the capability its Audience Targeting Platform and says it has begun to have conversations with clients about media buys beginning in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The program will begin with a handful of categories in which demand for key commercial inventory exceeds supply, according to Linda Yaccarino, recently promoted to chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC. About a third of NBCU inventory will be set aside to ensure that clients in those categories can buy these top-performing commercials at scale.

Clients will identify their marketing plans and audience targets, and the Audience Targeting Platform will use data from set top box viewing and several third party data to find matches in NBCU's inventory and allocate those commercials as part of the client's TV advertising schedule.

Those ATP findings could be part of conversations that lead up to upfront buys or be purchased as scatter, depending on the client's preference Yaccarino said.

"Marketers no longer have to choose between digital media's data-driven targeting and television's scale and unparalleled ability to communicate via great storytelling," said Yaccarino. "Now, we are unique in our ability to deliver on our promise of targeting nationally and insights-driven program selections across the entire NBCUniversal portfolio. Video content is more powerful in the presence of data."

The added targeting capabilities should create inventory that is more valuable to clients and identify value in inventory that previously had been hidden. But unlike some data driven ad sales in digital, NBCU does not plan to auction this inventory.

Yaccarino said the ATP involved NBCU's entire inventory, from the Today show to Tonight, and from Telemundo to Oxygen. She said that having all of NBCU's sales efforts consolidated and running through a single computer system helped make all of its inventory available through the platform.

Data and technology is becoming a bigger part of the TV advertising business. Many networks are looking for ways to target viewers beyond the standard age and sex demos that worked well for a mass media. Automation is also being experimented with as a way to increase efficiency and several TV companies have begun offering programmatic buying, which also uses data to match ads to consumer targets.

A year ago, NBCU introduced NBCU+ Powered by Comcast, which offered increased targeting and measurement for television ad campaigns.

The ATP will encompass all of NBCU's inventory, while NBCU+ was only available within parent company Comcast's cable footprint. Also ATP will be able to target inventory on a program by program basis, while NBCU+ worked on a daypart level.

Jon Lafayette

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.