CANNES – NBCUniversal’s Symphony initiative keeps adding new players to its promotional ensemble, wherein all company units pull to together to promote a specific initiative. This year Symphony will benefit from NBCU’s partnerships with the likes of Apple News, BuzzFeed and Snapchat.
Therein lies a paradox of sorts, given NBCU’s public bashing of some of the new generation of content providers. So it’s noteworthy to hear the company’s sales chief, Linda Yaccarino, discuss issues like brand safety, premium video and “shiny new toys” in this interview conducted by OMD’s investment chief Ben Winkler at the FreeWheel/Beet.TV New TV Ecosystem Leadership Forum, which took place at the Comcast beach cabana.
Winkler set the stage by asking Yaccarino to square her comments about advertisers over-allocating spending to digital platforms with a wave of negative comments about brand safety on some of those platforms. Were the two connected?
Yaccarino responded by citing a “dangerous soup of an environment that we live in today. I don’t think anyone has the answer yet of what’s the right magical number of the mix, of premium content to digital.”
At the next Cannes festival, the subject may very well be moot, as far as Yaccarino is concerned. “Next year, I hope we stop talking about digital versus linear. In a year or two it’s all going to be the same thing,” she said. “But the turf war isn’t about digital versus linear. It’s how can we come together and help our clients sell more product.”
Winkler asked why NBCU disparaged “shiny new toys” in the digital space but proceeded to invest in and partner with some of them. That all depends on how one defines shiny objects, Yaccarino said.
Citing Apple News, BuzzFeed, Snapchat and Vox, she said, “It’s all populated by one thing and that’s premium content.”
Consumers have already dispelled any semantical differences between traditional TV content and video, according to Yaccarino. “The consumer is already there. They see no difference between accessing content via the big screen on the wall in their home or the screen in their lap or the screen in their hand.”
However, barriers still remain in the “ease of transaction for our customers,” she noted, “and the ability to offer them unified measurement or, God forbid, a currency in which to transact.”
NBCU’s Symphony initiative is credited with, among other things, raising NBC from “worst to first” in ratings by pooling the resources of all company units—from linear digital to theme parks. Among the beneficiaries has been the program “This Is Us,” as The Los Angeles Times reports.
“The difference this year is that we’re able to spread that messaging through the partners that we’ve been talking about, Snapchat, Buzzfeed, Apple News so it’s very exciting,” said Yaccarino.
This video is from The New TV Ecosystem Forum at Cannes Lions 2017, presented by FreeWheel. For more from the series, please visit this page.