Here’s How NBCU’s Solution To Unite Its Linear And Digital Inventory Will Work

If there was ever any ambiguity about the extent to which marketers could transact on NBCU’s linear and digital inventory in one fell swoop, consider that confusion lifted.

The broadcast giant detailed Tuesday how advertisers could plan, buy and measure via One Platform, which NBCU formally unveiled at CES 2020.

Here’s what you need to know from the company’s press conference.

So what’s the big news?

Advertisers can buy, measure and optimize across all of NBCU’s digital and linear assets.

Cool, what inventory is available … and when?

All of NBCU’s inventory will be available. NBCU is currently focused on the upfronts and talking to clients about using One Platform.

Does this change the way advertisers work with NBCU?

Kind of. Tom Winiarski, EVP of planning and monetization, outlined “new ways to transact.”

Advertisers can now buy based on broad reach across NBCU’s entire portfolio, which extends to more than 200 million people aged 18 and up. Winiarski called this method “our new standard for network and dayparts-specific buys across all of NBCU’s premium video.”

Advertisers can also buy demo-targeted audiences, reaching a specific age or gender across NBCU’s portfolio. There’s enough flexibility to buy across just one screen or all of NBCU’s screens, and “receive a single demographic guarantee against One Platform,” Winiarski said.

Then there’s advanced target audience capabilities for advertisers who want granularity. Again, the biggest change is that before, according to Winiarski, “linear and digital targeted offerings used to be separate. Now we are bringing them together.”

Advertisers can also buy sponsorships and live events hosted by NBCU.

So in sum, advertisers can still buy based on reach, demo or advanced targeting, but now they can do so across the entire linear and digital portfolio, instead of having to split up buys across NBCU.

Can advertisers reach this cross-platform audience beyond NBCU-owned screens?

Again, kind of. If advertisers want to do a consolidated buy across, say, NBCU and Xandr, that day has yet to come. But if advertisers want to buy, optimize and measure on NBCU-owned content hosted on Roku or Twitter, that’s totally viable, according to Krishan Bhatia, EVP of business operations and strategy.

“As you imagine our content traveling to YouTube, Roku devices, Amazon Fire devices, Apple TV and Twitter, we’re a unifier of audiences across all those platforms because our content travels to all those platforms,” he said. “So One Platform is not just the legacy definition of a portfolio, which might have TV networks and digital properties, but it’s meant to be all-encompassing. Wherever our content travels, the marketer will be along for the ride on that journey.”

As far as extending that buy across other dare -we -call -them walled gardens, both Bhatia and NBCU ads chief Linda Yaccarino bemoaned the current state of affairs. It continues to be, in Yaccarino’s words, “a burden for our customers where they have to do different deals with different companies, but particularly on different screens at those companies.”

She argued that One Platform is the only place where all screens owned by a broadcaster are now combined.

Meanwhile, Bhatia noted that NBCU continues to support cross-company collaboration efforts, such as OpenAP.

What’s on the One Platform road map?

Bhatia described One Platform as a “long-term evolution” where every year, NBCU will roll out new capabilities. For this year and next, NBCU will focus on unifying audiences and developing new optimization capabilities.

In years two and three, NBCU wants to build more automation and planning systems – though like everyone else in TV advertising, it’s still dealing with the fact that legacy TV infrastructure still hasn’t come together with digital infrastructure.

“So we wanted to bulk up on innovation at the outset with creating more smarts for how you activate the portfolio,” Bhatia said. “Then we’ll take care of the intricacies of unifying these and automating them over subsequent periods.”

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