NBCUniversal signaled it may sell some of its TV ad inventory on an automated ad-sales market at the “upfront” ad market this spring, making it one of the biggest TV companies to move in that direction.
Specifically, the Comcast Corp-owned media conglomerate said that it’s open to employing “private exchanges,” automated ad-buying services which enable select advertisers to purchase specific target audiences across multiple media, in this case including NBCU’s Web properties and TV networks.
Private exchanges have become popular testing grounds among digital advertisers and Web publishers in recent years, though its debatable how much ad revenue actually changes hands this way. The way it works, theoretically, is that a media outlet makes a certain amount of its inventory available through its computer systems to advertisers. The advertisers then can employ their Web buying software in combination with proprietary data on consumer characteristics to buy ad time or space that is most efficient at reaching its target audience.
Web publishers like private exchanges, as they are able to set pricing parameters, and their ad inventory isn’t mixed in with the cheaper inventory available on public exchanges that often comes from sites large and small across the Web.
According to Linda Yaccarino, President, Advertising Sales, NBCUniversal, the company is looking to allow some ad clients to buy both TV and Web ads this way “sooner rather than later,” she said. “We’re prepared to make inventory available this year,” she said. “That could include TV.”
She did not mention whether NBCU would be turning to technology vendors to help with this endeavor or building out technology of its own.
To be clear, NBCU will sell the vast majority of its TV ad space the old fashioned way, via negotiations between buyers and sellers involving phone calls and paper contracts.
The Wall Street Journal reported last summer that Interpublic Group of Cos was teaming with several media companies to test an automated ad buying platform for TV and radio. At the time the Journal said NBCUniversal was in discussions to join the group. Ms. Yaccarino on Monday referred to IPG’s efforts in this regard.
“Right now, they’re very focused on digital,” she said, referring to agencies. “It hasn’t gotten to TV yet.” But as more major advertisers grow accustomed to using data for precision ad targeting on the Web, they’re looking to bring those tactics to TV, Ms. Yaccarino said.
Source: Wall Street Journal, 4/7/2014