NBCUx Marks Programmatic TV Spot

The Peacock is going programmatic.

Heading into an upfront that will likely feature strong demand from traditional buyers, NBCUniversal says it will also be offering advertising on its linear TV and cable networks via its programmatic platform, NBCUx.

NBCU has already introduced advanced advertising products that use data to help advertisers more efficiently reach the audience likely to buy their products. They also sell ads that are addressable, meaning the spots only go to homes where people are in the target market.

The arcane way television commercials were sold has changed little until recently. Prices are based on how long a client has been doing business with a network and how much money it brings to the table—and on the strength of the relationship between the salesperson and the buyer.

Data and automation have been creeping into the conversation, especially as traditional ratings have fallen, making it difficult for networks to grow ad revenue without overstuffing programs with commercials that scare more viewers away.

Programmatic is a bit scary because it has the potential to disassemble that dynamic by automating the ad sales process and making more decisions based on cold, hard data.

NBCU executives have been careful to make sure the machines won’t run amuck, slashing prices the way programmatic once did to the market for digital banner ads.

“We feel we’ve got a complete hold on what we’re doing here, and we feel very confident that everything being done is going to be done with our agency and advertising partners in mind,” says Dan Lovinger, executive VP for NBCU’s entertainment advertising sales group.

“It is really meant to simplify the process of planning and transacting linear television inventory. It is not a real-time bidding tool,” adds Krishan Bhatia, executive VP, business operations and strategy at NBCU. Real-time bidding is essentially an auction that determines the price for advertising.

The NBCU execs say that clients are demanding a simpler process for buying television ads. Marketers are also looking for ways to make their TV campaigns moreefficient and effective.

“What this offering does is it allows the advertiser to find audiences,” says Lovinger. 

Those viewers could be in dayparts or networks where the advertiser hasn’t bought before, or even on one of NBCU’s Spanish-language networks. 

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.