NBCUniversal: How To Empower Advertisers with Agility Across Linear, Streaming, And Digital

By Tinuiti Team

Today, consumers will tune in whenever and wherever they can from CTV devices to watching a video on their phone. It’s imperative for advertisers to remain agile across linear, streaming, and digital. But some media agencies can get stuck operating in siloes which is one of the main reasons why NBCUniversal launched “One Platform”, a new way to empower advertisers by focusing on audiences, rather than a specific channel.

We spoke with Brendan Garrone, VP, Programmatic Partnerships at NBCUniversal to learn more about NBCUniversal’s current offerings, why brands should invest in their services today, and what we can expect to see from their streaming and traditional portfolio in the near future.


Q. How is NBCUniversal navigating advertisers between streaming and traditional properties? What are the new/advanced ways of running across both?


Consumers live in an all-screen world. They don’t differentiate between screen, platform, or device. Instead, when we want to watch a show or catch a clip, we simply tune in when and where we want. Audiences deftly navigate between linear, streaming, and digital — whether it’s turning on the TV screen, CTV device, catching a clip on mobile or desktop, or engaging in social-driven content. At NBCUniversal, our goal is to help marketers do the same.

That’s why in 2020 we introduced One Platform. We recognized early on that the ways media agencies and brands plan their campaigns were stuck in siloes within a fragmented ecosystem. And because of that divide, understanding impact can be hard.

One Platform strips away that complexity by empowering everyone to look at audiences, rather than a specific channel. Plus, we are evolving our advanced advertising capabilities to fully monetize all of our available inventory for our partners to utilize.

By embracing cross-platform planning and finding the consumers who will move our partners’ businesses forward everywhere they are – linear, digital, CTV, streaming, and everything in between – we can make transacting with impact as simple as turning on the living room screen.

Q. Can you share how NBCUniversal is approaching the advertiser appetite for agility, and where you see an opportunity for programmatic buyers?


With One Platform, we’ve blurred the lines between linear and digital, providing more flexibility for our partners to execute media campaigns in new and impactful ways. We know that advertisers who are challenged to do more with less need flexible solutions to meet their business goals. And meeting that need for agility is a critical component of how we do business.

That’s why NBCUniversal is laser-focused on making a more interoperable, data-driven, self-serve environment for our partners that delivers simultaneously the scaled, premium, and brand-safe content opportunities our partners expect. Programmatic advertising is a core part of that strategy.

Across NBCUniversal, we take an activation agnostic approach and work with our partners to support their objectives across Managed Service, Programmatic Guaranteed, and Private Marketplace buying. Our First Look prioritization of PMPs in our waterfall provide buyers scalable audience matching capabilities for audience-driven campaigns. So, to answer your question, there is much opportunity for programmatic buyers as we enter a new era of advertising.


Q. How has the perception of programmatic evolved for both major publishers and advertisers?


The perception of programmatic advertising has really evolved in the last several years, in many ways mirroring the shift of consumer viewing habits to streaming and digital. Today, programmatic buying is simply one way that marketers can effectively transact; one tool for completing a campaign plan or media strategy.

But before we got here, programmatic was often looked at as an entirely separate tactic, built for lower-funnel KPIs, dominated by display, and perhaps associated with less than premium inventory.

Today, we see programmatic as an instrumental technique for driving full-funnel solutions. At NBCU, 74% of digital video consumption happens on the living room screen. That means programmatic advertising on CTV has the reach and scale of linear television, backed by the precision and advanced targeting capabilities of digital.


We’ve been hard at work over the last several years, investing in and building a strong programmatic offering that unites our advanced advertising capabilities, premium content, and brand-safe environments in a way that benefits our partners. In addition, we’ve also scaled our programmatic enablement capabilities to Peacock, embracing data-driven and automated activation with key DSP partners. We’re proud to empower our partners to activate their campaigns however works best for their business, and programmatic is a big part of bringing in new advertisers to “TV.”


Q. How are brands and agencies leaning into using data and audiences?


If you look across the industry, it’s clear that data is going to play a critical role in the future evolution of the media and advertising industry. And for NBCUniversal’s part, a focus on audiences is equally instrumental for marketers seeking to create and execute plans that advance business goals.

Our most recent Upfront cycle proves this: NBCUniversal experienced 90% adoption of One Platform audience automation and guarantees across digital, linear, and streaming. We saw AdSmart volume double in the last year. And all major agencies have opted into integrations with our newly announced NBCU Audience Insights Hub, which will increase interoperability across the industry. On top of all of that, our teams are hyper-focused on the centralization of our organization’s first-party audiences into a single consumer profile, that is deterministic and keeps privacy top of mind – better known as NBCU ID.

The most sophisticated advertisers have leveraged data to create an audience-first, cross-platform approach to planning.  The tools we have built and the continued investment in data and technology at NBCUniversal empower our advertisers to then activate on these audiences.


Q. What advice would you give to advertisers who are looking to capture and capitalize on the potential and promise of CTV?


The CTV space is growing at an impressive clip, and advertisers should look to capitalize on that growth and the new opportunities it presents. It should absolutely be considered an important part of any campaign’s media mix.

Specifically, CTV gives advertisers the precision and targeting capabilities of digital, with the reach and scale of linear television. And as more viewers use CTV devices to stream their content, marketers can more meaningfully connect with their audiences. CTV likewise provides brands a platform for extending the reach of their TV campaigns — this is true especially in competitive day parts. It’s also a critical opportunity to help maximize and build brand affinity in their total addressable markets.

But my biggest advice to advertisers is this: Look holistically at your business goals and find the audiences – no matter where they watch – who will move your business in the right direction. To consumers, there’s no difference between linear and digital – it’s all simply “TV.” And because of this, the industry needs to move away from siloed linear vs digital thinking and embrace cross-platform planning based on audiences.

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