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NBCU Hopes to Sell $1B in Targeted Ad Inventory

Variety logo Variety 3/2/2017 Brian Steinberg
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NBCUniversal intends to offer advertisers new chances to use the company’s data products and large portfolio of media assets to tackle specific marketing missions, like opening a blockbuster movie or selling soda, and says it will commit as much as $1 billion in ad inventory to the cause.

The Comcast-owned media conglomerate has in recent years used its pile of cable, broadcast and digital properties to promote its own business, such as calling attention to its “Today” morning franchise or wooing viewers to its massive Olympics broadcasts. Now NBCU wants to do the same for Madison Avenue, said Linda Yaccarino, the company’s chairman of ad sales and client partnerships, in an interview. “This is a unique product capability,” she said.

NBCU has offered the service for some time, last year enticing Chrysler to run a campaign for its Pacifica that enlisted both Seth Meyers and the company’s Universal release “The Secret Life of Pets” to help capture consumer attention. In 2017, Yaccarino said, NBCUniversal would make more widely available data that helps advertisers place commercials more precisely depending on the type of consumer being sought, as well as so-called “programmatic” technology that allows for automated ad purchases and placement.

But the company is making this new pitch as the TV industry gears up for the annual “upfront” marketplace, during which U.S. TV networks vie to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. TV networks are anticipating a healthy market this year, owing to the high pricing they are currently securing for “scatter” ad time, or inventory sold close to air date.

NBCU’s portfolio generates approximately $10 billion in ad revenue each year, with approximately $6 billion of that sold in the upfront.

The initiative could give clients access to specific kinds of inventory that are not owned outright by NBCUniversal. The company is able to sell ad inventory for both Vox and Buzzfeed, two digital-media outlets in which it holds ownership stakes, and Apple News, the Apple service for which NBCU sells ad inventory.

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