NBCU’s Linda Yaccarino Asks Buyers To Embrace New Upfront Strategies

There’s a “simultaneous frustration” on the buy and sell sides to move beyond legacy TV currency standards like C3 ratings, said Linda Yaccarino, chairwoman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCU, at the 4As Transformation show in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

This upfront season, NBCU is asking buyers to rethink the way they approach negotiations, committing $1 billion to guarantee audience-based inventory for advertisers across its entire portfolio.

“If we want to capture that consumer from the “Today Show” to the “Tonight Show” with Snap and BuzzFeed in between, [legacy standards] will limit our progress,” she said.

Over the past few years, NBCU has invested upward of $1.5 billion in digital properties, including AOL, BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Snap and Apple News. Now, it has enough scale across digital and linear to guarantee buyers their audiences by making near real-time changes to plans while they’re in flight, Yaccarino told buyers. And she’s asking them to buy in.

“We’re asking you to put your money where your mouths are,” she said. “We have got to bust out beyond legacy measurement because then we’re limited in what we can do for you.”

With audience guarantees, Yaccarino is trying to get buyers to move beyond a “digital vs. linear” narrative that’s played out in the past few years to recognize the importance of a media mix, and legacy TV networks’ ability to play in that world.

“It’s not shiny new toys over here and old legacy TV over there,” she said. “If we’re going to serve our clients with the right spot in the right place at the right time, it has to be a mix. All we’re asking is let’s take this year and see how much progress we can make.”

But Yaccarino also played up some of legacy TV’s benefits to woo buyers back to linear, like a clean, well-lit environment that allows them to ensure quality and context before placing a buy and the importance of third-party measurement.

“Instead of allowing an algorithm to match your segment to a piece of content that you find out later, in TV you’re able to make sure it’s the right content and context,” she said. “That’s what we’re making all our bets on.”

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