NBCUniversal Upfront boasts connections, audience-based buying

New York City - NBCUniversal on Monday kicked off its Upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall, where a parade of artists and entertainers took the stage to help showcase the breadth of upcoming content across linear and streaming properties as the media company worked to pique advertiser interest and investment.

NBCU earlier this year introduced its One Platform Total Audience cross-platform advertising tool that marries strategic audiences across linear and streaming for marketers in a one media plan. More recently it announced developing more than 300 AI-powered emotion-based audience segments and is also involved in a pilot of Google’s PAIR advertising and identity tool. And connections – both among audience, brands and the programming that’s meant to resonate – was a key theme at Monday’s Upfront.

"Connections are what we seek out,” said Mark Marshall, chairman of NBCUniversal Global Advertising & Partnerships, on stage. “Not only from our relationships, but also from our favorite sports teams, shows, and movies. This is also what we all strive for our brands, to have your product show up in moments of consumer connection.”

NBCU’s presentation focused on the comprehensiveness of its media properties and interconnectedness, with audience reach and investments in ad tech. That message hearkens back to similar executive sentiments during first quarter earnings that NBCU is seeing its various business segments and assets interplaying well together.

 “All in all, 273 million people interact with our content each and every month, and we’re engaging those audiences from morning to night on TV screens, mobile screens, movie screens, and even off-screen with events like BravoCon and experiences like our Universal Theme Parks,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCU Media Group, at the event. "We do it in sports, we do it in scripted entertainment, unscripted entertainment, and news. News that’s rooted in journalism.  And we do it in both English and Spanish.”

Late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Myers each were on stage serving up comedy bits during the event that was interspersed with musical performances by Michael Bublé, Little Big Town and event-closer Kelly Clarkson. Entertainers Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart joined the showcase, as NBCU promoted upcoming programs that span its linear networks including Spanish-language Telemundo content, and next-day broadcasts like Bravo franchises airing on Peacock, alongside scripted and unscripted streaming original series such as “Traitors.” The upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics were also highlighted, where NBCU in April disclosed already securing $1.2 billion in ad sales commitments and at the time said it was “on track to generate the most advertising revenue in Olympic history.” Peacock is airing over 5,000 hours of live Olympics coverage and the streaming service  teed up new features such as Multiview – with product enhancements not only meant to help viewers navigate the wide-spanning event but also extend to other sports and content on the platform post-games.

Another emphasis at the Upfront event for buyers, marketers and advertisers is NBCU’s ability to offer audience-based buying, where executives shared early first-quarter results since launching One Platform Total Audience in January.

In a trial with Amgen and Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the companies ran two parallel campaigns, both of which used equal ad dollars but with one plan using One Platform and the other done through a legacy transaction means, according to Marshall.

He said, “the results exceeded even our own expectations,” with One Platform Total Audience delivering a more than 38% higher in-target cross-platform reach and a +22% bump in search volume.

Marshall described a second parallel campaign test run with Domino's and GroupM, where NBCU tracked actual purchases on the restaurant chain’s app and website. The campaign using One Platform delivered a +38% increase in sales versus NBCU’s traditional plan.  

“Dominos has been buying NBCU and its content for decades, because it works for their brand. Yet, One Platform Total Audience drove a 38% increase in sales just by finding the right connection to the right consumer at the right time,” Marshall told the audience. “Results like this don’t just happen on their own. They happen when you invest in premium content and data. When you leverage linear and streaming all in a 100% brand safe environment. And, when you have the unmatched daily ad supported reach like ours.”

Executives also noted that advertisers in the trials had a high levels of transparency, with knowledge of where every ad unit actually ran.