Declaring that “less is more” when it comes to the television viewing experience, NBCUniversal says it’s cutting advertising clutter by 20% in original, primetime programming and 10% across the portfolio starting this fall. In addition, the media giant is launching a new, 60-second, contextually programmed PRIME POD in the first or last break of a show dedicated to up to two advertisers for stronger impact with viewers.
NBCU is making reductions in more than 50 primetime, original shows across its entire portfolio.
“Sometimes, a little bit less means a whole lot more,” said Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Client Partnerships. “The industry knows that television is already the most effective advertising medium there is, but we need to make the experience better for viewers.”
NBCU says it will unveil a suite of innovative new ad products including Interactive Picture in Picture and Social Commercials and Social First Pods. The new PRIME POD “combines the power of fewer, better, and more contextually relevant ads, and gives clients a unique opportunity to connect with audiences in the most effective, exciting, and efficient way,” the company announced.
Noting that contextually targeted ads fuel greater consumer conversion, the company will use a new artificial intelligence-based contextual content targeting product that “combs through scripts and data sources to make every ad that much more contextually relevant to its audience.”
The company has produced a video explaining its rationale. It’s titled We’re Creating More Prime Time Primetime.
Earlier this month, Krishan Bhatia, NBCU’s EVP, Business Operations & Strategy, explained to Beet.TV that improving the user experience is an “huge focus.” In light of today’s announcement about cutting commercial loads, we are republishing that interview.
NBCUniversal’s Total Audience Delivery is a first for its coverage of Winter Olympics and a model for what the company believes will be more acceptance of the way it is helping marketers re-aggregate fragmenting audiences. So far, one of the biggest takeaways from the PyeongChang Winter Games for Krishan Bhatia has been the acceleration of over-the-top and connected TV viewing.
“I think for the past few years we have continued to underestimate that potential,” says NBCU’s EVP, Business Operations & Strategy, who Beet.TV interviewed at the Annual Leadership Conference of the Interactive Advertising Bureau several days after the opening ceremonies. “Once again, we believe that it’s going to blow through all of the estimates.”
As Broadcasting & Cable reports, NBCU figures showed that 28.3 million viewers watched the opening ceremonies, 27.8 million of them on television. Audience numbers for out-of-home viewing weren’t yet available. As of Feb. 13, half of U.S. television homes and more than one-third of the country’s population had watched the Olympics on the networks of NBCUniversal, according to fast cume data provided by Nielsen. Six days into the events, NBC Sports Digital’s presentation had been accessed by 6.6 million unique devices–higher than the 2016 Rio Olympics (6.0 million through the comparable date) and more than tripling the 2014 Sochi Olympics (1.8 million to date).
Bhatia says the company’s total audience measurement and delivery approach should apply to any content and consumer segment that is proliferating and fragmenting across multiple platforms along with time-shifting consumption. Given this backdrop, brands want to work with fewer, bigger partners to re-aggregate eyeballs.
“I think we will find marketers and agencies leaning more into this than they ever had,” Bhatia says of Total Audience Delivery.
Commercial ad load and viewer experience remain “another area of huge focus for us,” he adds. Having reduced ad loads on OTT and on-demand platforms by about 30%, NBCU continues to test new formats and develop new products as well as improving its contextual targeting solutions.
“We’re in a two to three week process of researching ad pod length and formats right now to really come up with what is the optimal solution both for the consumer experience and for how that drives marketer metrics,” says Bhatia.
As the company approaches its third year of enhanced audience buying, it doesn’t plan to “reinvent the wheel” but scale the business “and quite frankly making it more efficient for marketers and agencies to engage with us.”
As examples he points to NBCU’s work on facilitating better data interoperability for audience targeting and its automation capabilities. In the latter category is its API through which buyers can access TV inventory on the 4C Insights Platform, which is the subject of this interview.
“We think that’s a giant step towards making the buying and transacting of television significantly more efficient,” Bhatia says.
This video is part of a series covering the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. The series is sponsored by AppNexus. Please visit this page for more coverage.