NBCUniversal and Sky unveil the first step of their plan to battle the tech giants


linda yaccarino

  • After Comcast’s 2018 acquisition of Sky, it’s starting to integrate Sky’s and NBCUniversal’s ad targeting capabilities.
  • It will morph NBCU’s Audience Studio into Sky’s AdSmart offering in Comcast’s first joint ad initiative since closing the $39 billion deal for Sky.
  • NBCU hopes the effort will help it compete with Facebook and Google by enabling advertisers to target ads on a global basis.

Comcast is starting to make good on getting benefits out of its 2018 acquisition of European pay-TV giant Sky.

In Comcast’s first joint ad initiative since the deal, NBCUniversal and Sky will start to share each other’s ad targeting tools, they announced March 18.

The deal will give NBCU access to Sky’s AdSmart, which lets advertisers target ads to individual viewers of digital and linear TV, using information on subscribers, and is considered by analysts to be one of the TV company’s most valuable assets.

NBCU contributes its 3-year-old Audience Studio, which lets advertisers target digital and linear audiences based on consumer behavioral attributes. Audience Studio will become part of AdSmart and SVP Denise Colella, who heads Audience Studio, will continue in her role.

Read more: NBCUniversal’s ad sales chief unveils her plan to use tech and a better TV experience to compete with Google and Facebook in 2019
The idea is to make it easier for advertisers to execute targeted video ad buys across multiple markets, as they can do on Facebook and Google now. Every media seller in the US sells addressable TV differently, making it hard for advertisers to buy. So in theory, NBCU and Sky joining forces should make it easier for advertisers to at least buy that broader footprint. NBCU and Sky will not be sharing their respective set-top box subscriber data with each other, in accordance with the EU’s privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation.

“It’s really about the global scale and reach now,” Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships for NBCU, told Business Insider. “We expect demand will be incredible based on some whisper conversations we’re having.”

Comcast is trying to fend off Google and Facebook

Comcast sees this ad targeting at scale as a way for it to fend off digital ad powerhouses Google and Facebook. The tech giants have continued to grow their ad business despite a steady drumbeat of scandals over abuses of their platforms. This past week Facebook, Google, and Twitter scrambled to remove video of New Zealand’s horrific mosque shooting. Facebook also faces an investigation for sharing user data with other tech companies.

Yaccarino has regularly used her perch as the industry’s top TV sales chief to slam the platforms for not being transparent about how they measure advertising and hosting unsafe content in contrast to NBCU with its shows like “This Is Us” that have an emotional pull on viewers while being safe for brands.

“When you can offer the scale, reach, and advanced capabilities, but sit on top of premium content — that puts us in a different playing field from a YouTube and Facebook,” Yaccarino told Business Insider. “Where global brands are struggling because of the, let’s call it significant concerns about what goes on with content on those platforms, this gives them a worry-free zone.”

NBCU also has been trying to improve the traditional TV-watching experience by cutting the number of ads people see. It’s testing a tool that contextually matches ads with shows at the scene level. It’s also trying to sell more advertising on digital platforms and get other TV sellers to adopt its cross-platform measurement system called CFlight.

SEE ALSO: FuboTV may be one of the smallest live streaming services, but it has a plan to beat giants like Dish and AT&T

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