NEW YORK — For several years, NBCUniversal (NBCU) has embraced the role of pathfinder for media companies looking to meet a variety of changing priorities and prerogatives in advertising. That work continued on Feb. 8 at One23, the company's annual developer conference — jokingly referred to as "nerd Coachella" in opening remarks by "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon — where executives made a bevy of announcements that built on previous initiatives that are beginning to bear fruit.
The overall theme of the event was making a mindset change, switching from "or" to "and." Instead of choosing between Big Media or Big Tech, precision or scale, automation or safety, and streaming or advertising, NBCU wants its advertiser, agency and technology partners to have it all, explained Linda Yaccarino, the company's chairman of global advertising and partnerships.
Many of the day's announcements were about incremental moves built on prior launches of platforms like NBCUnified and initiatives like its decision last year to elevate iSpot to an ad currency. While One23 didn't have any news on that level, it did demonstrate how previous developments are working and how the company is working to improve them.
Beginning in Q1, agencies and advertisers will gain access to thousands of NBCUnified first-party data attributes about "superfans" of NBCU's content and experiences. In line with the clean room trend, a partnership with GroupM and Choreograph will allow for safe integration with this fandom data.
Executives from advertiser partners were also on hand to detail how previous deals are shaping up. General Motors last year became the first brand to integrate with NBCUnified, bringing together data by utilizing Dentsu's M1 platform. General Motors global CMO Deborah Wahl said at the event that the data-driven targeting made possible by the tie-up is driving effectiveness, reducing ad waste and yielding GM high-propensity Cadillac audiences that are 19-times more likely to buy.
On the activation and automation front, NBCU is opening programmatic access to 30 premium Peacock live events per month via DSP partners The Trade Desk and OneView by Roku, with Beeswax, Google Display & Video 360, Amazon, Yahoo and Xandr coming on as DSP partners soon. It also teased new technology co-developed with Amazon Web Services that will let advertisers optimize linear buys in-flight, bringing the automation of digital to linear TV and moving beyond day part and show-by-show media planning.
As content and commerce continue to merge, NBCU will continue to expand NBCU Checkout and other shoppable formats on Peacock. And as retail media spending surges — despite marketer frustrations — NBCU is launching a retail media extension network in partnership with CitrusAd that will offer shoppable native ad placements to retail media buyers.
Along with expanding a variety of ad formats across live sports, the company is partnering with TripleLift to power In-Scene Ads that allow advertisers to insert 2D signage and 3D product placement into Peacock content during post-production.
The enhancements to the ad experience on Peacock comes as the streaming platform now has 80 million monthly active users — 90% of whom are choosing its ad-supported tier — a viewership that is the main driver behind the 227 million adults reached by its One Platform.
"We're delivering tangible impact for our thousands of advertisers on Peacock. We're seeing double digit lifts overall," said Jenny Burke, executive vice president of advertising strategy for NBCU.
Change is coming to measurement
NBCU has been a leading force in pushing measurement away from Nielsen's decades-long dominance to a multi-currency landscape. The company's announcement at last year's One22 that it would activate iSpot.tv’s cross-platform audiences as currency for national ad buys was largely seen as a blow to Nielsen, and the company has continued to work towards new standards for itself and the entire industry.
Along with expanding iSpot's certification and adding VideoAmp as a cross-platform currency for advanced audiences, NBCU has certified 27 new partners across audience, brand and incrementality measurement and multi-touch attribution, increasing its Measurement Framework partners to 38.
NBCU is also taking measurement a step further with its new Content Quality Index, a score that seeks to compare entertainment content, ad environment and ad creative work across content types and platforms.
The new index seeks to address the fact that "all reach is not created equal," according to Kelly Abcarian, executive vice president for measurement and impact at NBCU, who maintained that mindlessly scrolled user-generated videos don't generate the same engagement, resonance and ad impact as culture-defining content on NBCU.
"Premium content is what drives engagement on these platforms, and that's why all of you have a responsibility to protect the value of premium content across every environment and refuse to accept any cross-platform currency that doesn't," Abcarian said.
To further that cross-platform currency, NBCU also convened the first-ever panel of the Joint Industry Committee (JIC) that the company launched last month alongside Paramount, TelevisaUnivision, Warner Bros. Discovery, OpenAP and the Video Advertising Bureau. While light on details about the partnership, panelists noted that the JIC is "actively" talking to all programmers and hinted that more news on that front would be forthcoming, with details about rules, capabilities and partnerships unveiled at its event on April 25.
“The acceleration of a multi-currency future requires that both programmers and buyers have a common understanding around the standards needed to power emerging cross-platform measurement solutions," David Levy, CEO of OpenAP, said in a statement. "By partnering on the initiatives laid out by the JIC, we will enable more measurement innovation for the benefit of all."