How NBCU’s ad tech platform is changing advertiser targeting across linear TV

Produced in partnership with Marketecture

The following article provides highlights from an interview between Krishan Bhatia, NBCUniversal’s president and Chief Business Officer, and Ari Paparo, founder and CEO of Marketecture Media. Register for free to watch more of the discussion and learn how reimagined targeting is transforming the ways brands go to TV.

As an increasingly diverse set of marketers bring their campaigns to TV and CTV, each with unique goals and objectives, channel- and platform-agnostic partners have become essential to advertiser success.

Responding to the evolving TV environment, NBCU has positioned itself as an activation-agnostic solution — its platform is tailored to accommodate numerous use cases across linear and connected channels.  

NBCUniversal’s president and Chief Business Officer, Krishan Bhatia, recently spoke to Ari Paparo, the founder and CEO of Marketecture Media; they discussed NBCU’s One Platform and how the company is investing in product development and not just media sales. 


How NBCU created an ad tech platform for audience building, optimization and full-funnel measurement

NBCU’s platform emerged in response to advertisers’ search for solutions in an increasingly fragmented video landscape — one in which people were engaging with brands through linear TV, streaming, social media and other video-first avenues. In response, Bhatia’s team sought to create an automated, data-enabled and measurable way for marketers to reach consumers in all those places. 

“It’s an inherently complex problem to solve,” Bhatia said in the interview. “So, we’ve been investing in this space for roughly six to seven years now in earnest, building a foundational layer and then adding increasingly advanced feature functionalities and capabilities on top of that.” 

The result is NBCU, which reaches some 230 million consumers within the U.S. each month across distribution points. Bhatia highlighted a specific case in point.

“‘How do I reach more targeted audiences in linear TV where I can’t actually serve addressable ads because it’s largely still a broadcast model?’” he said. “Generally, it’s called data-driven linear. 

“Our product, as a part of One Platform, is called AdSmart, and it’s a way for you as a marketer to establish a target audience that’s based on criteria and attributes that either you bring or CRM data or that we help define through our first-party data and potentially third-party datasets,” Bhatia continued. “We agree on a target segment, and we then find those audiences across all of our touchpoints, both on linear and then, if you want to extend that to streaming or digital platforms.”

Next, Bhatia said, the NBCU team works with the advertiser to build an optimized plan, which reaches the target audience with a significantly higher reach because it is designed to over-index audiences based on the networks and individual properties they’re watching. 

From there, the plan is optimized on a pre- and mid-flight basis, so the advertisers are delivered maximum reach at equal frequency. The NBCU team measures everything on the back end with a supply of attribution partners according to the advertiser’s vertical.  

“If you transition from the consumer footprint of how do we engage 230 million people in connection with our marketing partners on a day-to-day basis to the advertising technology stack,” said Bhatia, “it adds a number of different components that range from audience building to plan building to optimization, all the way down to full-funnel measurement, and that’s what we consider our One Platform offering.”

NBCU: The future of TV includes non-traditional currencies 

Advertising on TV continues to expand and scale as offerings such as NBCU enable targeting in an addressable manner on streaming inventory. This is unlocking new capabilities for advertisers.

“It’s a very different way than typical advertising planning, optimizing and measuring for linear TV inventory than it might have been five or six years ago,” said Bhatia, “when it was really based on content selections and age/gender demographics as proxies for their target audiences. 

“About 40% of our total portfolio now transacts on currencies that we define as either advanced or non-traditional,” he continued, “and so we believe that we will hit the pivot point of over 50% in very short order — and all of our capabilities are oriented around fueling those use cases and that growth.”

As the number of marketers engaging with TV grows, it will be crucial that advertisers have technology at their fingertips to target across linear and streaming TV, empowering them to optimize at any time. As Bhatia described the work underway, NBCU is one of the vanguard working to ensure those solutions are in place.


Register for free to watch more of the discussion between Ari Paparo and Krishan Bhatia and learn how reimagined targeting is transforming the ways brands go to TV.

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