LAS VEGAS—Even with all the advances being made in targeting television audiences and automating parts of the selling process, the annual ritual known as the Upfront isn’t going away anytime soon. “I think the Upfront’s still going to be very important for at least a few more years if not even beyond, for a very specific purpose,” says NBCUniversal’s Tony Effik.

The Upfront is the only marketplace where you can “figure out your whole year. There’s a whole bunch of efficiencies attached to that,” says the SVP of Client Strategy. “Getting the right kind of pricing, cementing a partnership, so there’s always going to be a role for that.”

In this interview with Beet.TV at CES 2019, Effik also talks about the expectations of so-called direct-to-consumer advertisers and his team’s job of sifting through the “treasure chest of riches” that is the NBCU content portfolio.

At NBCU, the “whole idea of doing mass media now sits very comfortably with us bringing more targeted media, data-driven media, into the Upfront as well. So we’re managing to marry both of these worlds within the existing upfront,” says Effik.

His reference to a treasure chest of assets reflects, among other things, NBCU’s motion picture studios, theme parks, digital assets and set-top boxes. “My team’s job is to look at where the value is in that and then connect the dots for our clients.”

When talking about direct-to-consumer brands, Effik says that while NBCU wants to be “where any industry is being reinvented,” it’s also an opportunity change the way people see his company as just an upper-funnel player. “We think there’s been a misperception in the industry around what NBCU represents.”

For companies that grew up on Facebook and or Google, “we’re showing them that they can actually get just as good if not more superior returns by working with NBC at the lower end of the funnel.” For new but more established brands, “We’re now showing them that they can be mature brands by using the full scope of our portfolio.”

A common characteristic of direct-to-consumer brands is that “they’re CPA obsessed,” meaning cost per acquisition, according to Effik. “They want to get a low cost of acquisition, but they want to do it at scale. We know what things in our portfolio drive that the best and we’re packaging that kind of stuff with them.”

Priorities do change from one company to another, including economically driving website visits and gaining more brand awareness. For example, “People on the coasts, in the hip neighborhoods of New York or L.A. know who we are. Now we want to go into Middle America. I want awareness.”

This video is part of Beet.TV coverage of CES 2019. The series is sponsored by NBCUniversal. For more coverage, please visit this page.