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The NBCU Upfronts: Less Crystal Ball, More AI Precision

So, NBCUniversal has decided it’s time to play favorites in the wild world of ad measurement, casting its lot with VideoAmp for the upcoming TV and video upfronts. John Lee, who holds the lofty title of Chief Data Officer, Advertising and Partnerships at NBCU, made this little nugget of news public. It’s a bit like high school all over again, picking your bestie, but in the infinitely more complicated and cutthroat sandbox of media partnerships.

The big reveal happened at NBCU’s One24 shindig in New York City, a gathering that sounds more like a tech rave than a conference, held at the Rockefeller Center headquarters. Because, of course, if you’re going to announce you’ve got a new best friend, why not do it with the maximum amount of pomp and circumstance?

This bromance with VideoAmp is all about getting cozy with audience-based, cross-platform planning and measurement. Translation: NBCU wants to know if you’re watching “The Office” reruns on Peacock or catching live “SNL” clips on YouTube, and then they want to sell that insight to advertisers with the precision of a ninja assassin.

NBCU didn’t stop there. They’re also rolling out the red carpet for generative AI in their ad sales hustle, announced at the same One24 extravaganza. Because nothing says “we’re living in the future” quite like letting AI decide the fate of where ads get placed. This AI wizardry aims to refine audience targeting and boost advertiser performance, or in layman’s terms, make sure your grandma doesn’t get bombarded with skateboard ads.

One24 was hosted in Studio 8H, a venue that’s seen more celebrity foot traffic than the Hollywood Walk of Fame, setting the stage for NBCU’s upfront pitch to advertisers. This pitch is essentially the pre-game show to the main event: the NBCU upfront on May 13 at Radio City Music Hall, where the peacock network will strut its stuff and try to woo advertisers with big promises and probably a few high-kicks.

In a move that screams “we’re tech-savvy,” NBCU is also introducing programmatic buying for the Olympics. Because nothing enhances the thrill of watching the 100-meter dash like knowing an algorithm placed that sneaker ad. They’ve partnered with The Trade Desk to offer this, marking a first for the Olympics and probably not the last time we’ll see algorithms gatecrashing major sporting events.

Adding to the mix, NBCU is launching Virtual Concessions and Must Shop TV, turning passive viewing into a shopping spree. Because why merely watch “Top Chef” when you can simultaneously order a sous-vide machine and try to replicate the winning dish in real-time?

In a landscape where Nielsen ratings have been the gold standard, albeit a controversial one, NBCU is branching out, teaming up with VideoAmp, EDO, and Kochava to explore new territories in viewer measurement. It’s a bold move, suggesting that in the ever-evolving world of media, sticking solely with traditional metrics is about as cutting-edge as a flip phone.

Mark Marshall, NBCU’s Chairman of Global Advertising & Partnerships, waxed poetic about television being a “full-funnel performance vehicle,” a phrase so buzzword-laden it could only be concocted in the ad world. His statement at One24 hints at NBCU’s grand vision: to blend aspiration with action, essentially turning viewers into consumers with the finesse of a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

So, there you have it. NBCUniversal’s latest maneuvers are a testament to its ambition to not just keep up with the times but to sprint ahead, dragging advertisers along for what promises to be a rollercoaster ride through the ever-blurring lines of TV, digital, and now, AI-driven advertising. Strap in; it’s going to be a wild ride, with or without the AI overlords.

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://www.adotat.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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