How has your strategy evolved to meet the demands of a changing audience landscape? How about the needs of advertisers seeking the best value online, via TV and via mobile?
When we talk with advertisers about the changing landscape, we always do it from a fact based point of view. We have 20 consecutive quarters of research, for example, that reveal how consumers interact with our full episode video player. We know that consumers who watch our shows online are largely complementary to the on-air audience because they are catching up or sampling shows i.e. activity that otherwise would not have been possible without the media offering. Bringing consumer insights to advertisers helps them understand why all screens need to be a part of their media plan. Further, we know that advertising messages that are threaded through like programming on-air and on-line have greater brand impact on consumers.
How do the changing methods of premium content delivery -- mobile, online, TV -- produce benefits for brands seeking to bring their messages to new audiences?
The biggest opportunity offered to marketers with all the "new" platforms is simply around interactivity. Linear television is a one way broadcast. Web and Mobile are two way platforms and on many VOD platforms the consumer can initiate a Request For Information (RFI). The creative opportunity is the dialogue. The creative challenge is to initiate the dialogue.
There is a lot of controversy about consumer privacy issues and how that impacts a brand's or content provider's ability to connect with users. What's your take?
It's important to point out that we don't trade in personally-identifiable information and that consumers have more control over their data via browser setting and other technology than they do in the real world. Consumers enjoy a superior experience at their favorite web sites when data remembers their sign-on information, their preferences, their profiles, and more. Marketers and content providers alike are simply trying to use this information to provide more relevance to both advertising and content experiences online. Responsible brands and publishers use data to curate better experiences for consumers.Will we hit a critical point of convergence in terms of cross-platform content?
If media distribution channels were languages, our consumers would be multi-lingual. Consumers seek the best screen available for their content and are platform agnostic. NBCUniversal is capitalizing on the fact that convergence is here for a large part of the audience as reflected in our numerous tandem viewing experiences: From Bravo's Talk Bubble and NBCLive to Sunday Night Football Extra and USA's Character Chatter, NBCUniversal is already publishing converged programming experiences across our entire portfolio of properties.How do we define an audience in an era when lifestyle and interests cut across so many traditional lines?
How do we create advertising creative and advertising strategy that connects to the right content when all of the traditional parameters seem to move so frequently? Traditionally, a company would produce ad creative, buy media against a target audience and then research impact. The first step in today's era is acknowledging that consumers are multifaceted. They are not always playing the role of "frequent business travel" or "primary grocery shopper," and demographic age cells are not always the best proxy to target an audience. Ad creative and ad strategy need to be informed by insights beyond the conventional models. So everything flips. Research informs media choices and media placements should inform creative execution. Research and insights are the top of the funnel.
Online publishers, who have long been dismayed with the revenue from some of their advertising, are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.
In the last month, CBS Interactive and Forbes.com have both created their own ad exchanges to directly sell the lower-priced ads called remnants that typically run at the bottom of their Web pages or on secondary pages. These are following similar efforts by NBC Universal, Weather.com and Turner Broadcasting Systems.
For publishers, setting up exchanges has several advantages: they cut out the middlemen (those third-party ad networks that often sell cheaper remnant ads for teeth-whitening or weight-loss products across a broad range of sites) and they allow the publishers greater control over consumer data.
“The publishers that are setting the ground rules right now are making higher C.P.M.’s,” said Michael Greene, an analyst at Forrester Research, referring to the cost per thousand impressions, a yardstick for the value of an ad. He estimates that publishers who switch to their own exchanges can increase the C.P.M. of such ads from around $1 to up to $5.
For years, many online publishers like newspapers, magazine companies and sites affiliated with television networks have sold the premium ads — like the large banners across the top of a Web page — themselves, then used third-party networks to sell the rest at a much lower price. The switch in tactics comes at a time when online publishers are feeling a little more flush with the broad upswing in advertising and perhaps less anxious about squeezing every penny out of remnant ads.
“There is significant value in branded data,” said Kevin Gentzel, the chief revenue officer at Forbes, which has not been selling through third-party networks. “A Forbes in-market car buyer has more value that just an in-market car buyer.”
The shift also takes many publishers back to their advertising roots: building a particular audience to sell to a particular advertiser, not just spots on a Web page. "If advertisers want to come in, we’re selling them the network,' said Nick Johnson, the senior vice president of digital media sales at NBC Universal. "We’re not selling them placements; we’re selling them people.”
These private networks are also being created at a time when the federal government is investigating the surreptitious collection of personal data by third-party networks. Ad networks collect data on the users who visit publisher Web sites and sell user profiles to other advertisers. Ad networks typically use a small piece of code called a cookie to track the users across the Web.
Publishers creating their own networks now keep that data for themselves, instead of providing it to ad networks that might sell against the publisher’s target audience on another site.
“We want to make sure that we’re controlling what happens with data,” said Mr. Johnson. “We want to make sure we control pricing. Control’s a very important message. We don’t want there to be a cottage industry built on our backs.”
NBC announced its version of a private exchange, called the Universal Audience Platform, last July. In mid-February, CBS Interactive began its own private exchange. The platform, like most others, uses a technology called “real-time bidding” which allows advertisers to bid on specific users at specific times. The technology can tell advertisers data like what browser a person is using, the user’s I.P. address and location, the number of sites visited, and the current site the user is viewing. These facts help an advertiser place an ad in front of specific users at the optimum time.
For readers, the switch could mean fewer ads for herbal remedies and teeth-whitening, at least on some Web pages. “In the private exchange model, the goal is to make sure you’re delivering high-quality inventory to high-quality advertisers,” said Mr. Greene of Forrester.
Advertising agencies say they welcome publishers taking control. Brendan Moorcroft, the chief executive of Cadreon, the agency trading desk at the Interpublic Group, said that top-tier publishers could create a spot for advertising “that aligns to our needs more greatly and more efficiently.”
Mike Cassidy, the chief executive and founder of Undertone, an ad network, said networks that sell low-quality advertisements will suffer the most. “Does this over all cause concern for networks? Absolutely,” Mr. Cassidy said. “Does it cause concern for every ad network? Absolutely not.”
Mr. Cassidy said that 18 of the company’s top 20 advertisers were Fortune 500 companies and that business had grown 40 percent in 2010. Undertone sells advertising in areas not typically available on most exchanges, including formats like full-page ads and video ads. “If you look through the history of mankind, middlemen have existed forever,” Mr. Cassidy said.
In November of last year, Weather.com announced its private exchange, called Category 5, through which it has sold ad space to premium advertisers like Sprint, Chevrolet, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Michael J. Kelly, the chief executive of the Weather Channel Companies, said the exchange helped the company protect sensitive consumer data from getting into the wrong hands. For instance, the company tracks users’ locations in order to provide local weather updates, Mr. Kelly said.
“By putting our inventory into ad networks, we lose control over that,” Mr. Kelly said.
Officials from the Federal Trade Commission declined to comment on the creation of private exchanges and publishers’ shift to data collection, but in a report issued in December the commission sought comment from the industry on how to better define the acceptable uses of marketing and data collection.
All of the publishers interviewed said that the data they collected was not personally identifiable and that data collection practices were in line with industry principles of self-regulation.
“I think the days of being reliant on third-party companies are numbered,” said Jason Kelly, the chief media officer for Admeld, a technology company that helps publishers manage their online advertising. “Agencies are investing in technology. Publishers are now investing in technology. Publishers are looking to own the relationship with their clients.”
As RTB spend ramps up, many publishers are looking for ways to embrace it without compromising their core objectives. In this panel, executives from some of the world's top media companies shared how these shifts have changed the way digital publishers view the world of tomorrow.
NEW YORK – (July 26, 2010) NBC Universal today announced the launch of the Universal Audience Platform (UAP), a “first party” online ad network of 21 NBCU owned-and-operated digital properties reaching nearly 60 million unique users each month. Available today, the UAP allows NBCU to tap into the growing market for ad networks and portals and offer advertisers direct access to premium display inventory that can be targeted at scale across NBCU’s digital content portfolio.
Peter Naylor, Executive Vice President of Digital Sales for NBC Universal, said, “Ad networks and portals are a nearly $5 billion marketplace, where third party ad networks capture a disproportionate share. The UAP allows NBCU to be a key player in this market with a portfolio of leading digital properties, a suite of best-in-class targeting providers and a strong focus on customer service. By dialing down third party ad networks, we’re able to take greater control over our digital inventory and provide the marketplace with a new buying opportunity directly from a trusted and premium content source.”
The UAP will pool display inventory from 21 different NBCU digital properties that reach an unduplicated audience of nearly 60 million unique users each month. The inventory will be sold solely by targeting audiences and not by specific websites, using top data providers including BlueKai, Nielsen and Quantcast. Audience profiles can include demographic composition, behavioral patterns, geographic location and purchase intenders. That data can also be supplemented with internal NBCU and client provided data to further define the clients’ desired audience.
The UAP system also includes a capability to plug into the industry’s major holding company trading desks, including Adnetik, Cadreon, Omnicom Trading Desk and VivaKi. These in-house companies provide clients with preferred access to UAP inventory in real-time bidding environments through private exchanges. These exchanges allow NBCU to maintain full control over its inventory and drive efficiency in the purchase process.
"We're very pleased to see NBCU enter this rapidly growing sector of the market," said Curt Hecht, CEO of the VivaKi Nerve Center. "We are evolving our current Audience on Demand trials and capitalizing on NBCU's powerful portfolio of brands and aggregated reach. The Nerve Center is all about reaching keenly defined audiences, and by extending our NBCU relationship into the addressable display marketplace, we can reach those audiences for our clients via premium quality inventory."
In addition to this new marketplace offering, NBCU will continue to focus on growing its core digital business opportunities, including sponsorships, TV360 and NBC Universal Integrated Sales Marketing deals.
The UAP network is launching with inventory from all of the NBCU Entertainment sites – bravotv.com, nbc.com, oxygen.com, syfy.com, usanetwork.com – as well as accesshollywood.com, ivillage.com, mun2.com, nbcsports.com, the 10 NBC Local Media websites, telemundo.com and Universal Home Entertainment.
About NBC Universal:
NBC Universal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.