Setting the Stage for NBCUniversal’s One Platform

By Tomorrow Will Be Televised Archives
Cover image for  article: Setting the Stage for NBCUniversal’s One Platform

When agencies and media buyers figure out their 2020-21 Upfront television advertising strategies, they will have at least three options in their sights for generating comprehensive cross-platform transactions:  NBCUniversal’s One Platform, Xandr from AT&T/WarnerMedia and Vantage, developed by Viacom and now operating under the ViacomCBS umbrella.

Executives from One Platform, which was introduced this past January during CES, detailed its cross-platform approach earlier this week in a conference call with reporters.  The game afoot, as put forward on the call by Linda Yaccarino (pictured at top), NBCUniversal’s chairman of advertising and partnerships, is operating a workable, smooth business model that’s compatible with buying ad time on linear or digital programming services and will reach all audiences everywhere they are across the full NBCUniversal ecosystem.  Yaccarino was joined on the call by other NBCU executives who oversee ad sales and ad tech.

What NBCU will deliver, starting with this Upfront cycle, is “the first singular platform that will allow marketers to transact with us in a unified, technically sophisticated, data-driven way … that actually reflects the consumer behavior and experience,” Yaccarino explained.  “We see marketers placing tremendous value on the seamless experience and data-driven targeting offered usually by tech companies.  At the same time, marketers know that in a world of fragmentation and divided attention, it’s stories that matter.

“Storytelling moves people, inspires action, and ultimately, helps sell the most products,” she added.

Thanks to a set of technology advancements grouped into three categories -- optimization, planning and delivery, and measurement -- One Platform will give Upfront time buyers four highways to travel for audience-building.

One is broad reach, catching the widest net of viewers whether they watch the content on TVs, through cable/satellite operators or through smartphones.

Targeted campaigns by age and gender demographics is the second route, handling linear, digital video and smart TV set/connected device-transmitted content at the same time. 

Precise, advanced target audience buys on a higher level of granularity is the third option in play. 

Rounding out this portfolio:  multi-element sponsorships or campaigns geared to big live events, such as the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo this summer, award ceremonies and election night in November.

Tom Winiarski, executive vice president of planning and monetizations at NBCU, labeled the broad reach audience format “our new standard for network and daypart-specific buys across all of (our) premium video, and it will allow advertisers to take advantage of our unparalleled scale and reach.”

In the optimization arena, One Platform will incorporate Nielsen demo target audience data, plus data science and organizing technology from 4C Insights.  Contributions from Comcast advertising tech unit FreeWheel and independent entity Operative will streamline or simplify the planning and delivery process on each campaign.  FreeWheel’s process handles scheduling and trafficking of campaigns across linear, addressable and digital platforms concurrently.

“Making premium television content easier for advertisers to buy is a key priority for our industry and for the future of advertising,” said FreeWheel general manager Dave Clark in a prepared statement.

As for measurement, One Platform will operate under an enhanced version of NBCU’s CFlight cross-platform impression system, now incorporating co-viewing of smart TV set/device-delivered content from home, usage away from home and short-form video viewership.  Users also can access in-campaign and post-campaign measurement dashboards for tracking cross-platform viewer trends.

“We’re excited about the progress against these capabilities, which represent tens of millions of dollars of investment to deepen our partnership with our clients and to future-proof (our) advertising business,” noted Krishan Bhatia, NBCU’s executive vice president of business operations and strategy.

Post-CES reaction to One Platform has “been overwhelmingly positive,” according to NBCU co-president of advertising sales and partnerships Mark Marshall.  “In every meeting, we’re feeling the excitement about what this means, not just for how companies work with us, but what it means for our employees and the full industry,” he said.

Advertising officials also like One Platform’s end-to-end commitment to full transparency and brand safety.  “That was our No. 1 priority,” declared co-president of ad sales and partnerships Laura Molen.  What’s more, Molen confirmed, One Platform will work off the bat with Peacock, when that NBCU mega-programming venture kicks off April 15 via Comcast and other cable systems, followed by other platforms two months later.

Xandr will showcase its cross-platform abilities May 13 during its first-ever Upfront event with sister AT&T-backed Warner Media in New York.  Later that day, ViacomCBS will stage its first Upfront ceremony ever, and that may be the place to highlight the next generation of Vantage.

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