At CES, Yaccarino Pushes for More AI, Less Clutter

NBCU ad-sales chief says she’s eyeing 20% cut in commercial time
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LAS VEGAS — NBCUniversal chairman for ad sales and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino told a CES audience here that her company will continue to cut ad clutter, increase addressable advertising and make ads more contextually relevant by using artificial intelligence.

“By the end of the year, we’ll be at 20% less commercial time, full stop, across our portfolio,” she said.

Linda Yaccarino

Linda Yaccarino

Yaccarino last year had committed NBCU to reducing the number of commercial breaks in NBC’s primetime shows by 20% and the total ad time by 10%.

Those goals have been met and NBCU is committing to reducing ad time in other dayparts, including news shows like the Today show.

In terms of addressable advertising, Yaccarino said NBCU estimates the market will hit $3 billion during the 2019-20 season.

“I think we’re finally there,” she said. “The capability is there and there’s enough companies there for you to be able to get the immediacy of scale with the addressable functionality the advertisers have become used to on the social platform.”

She said that already about 35% of NBCU’s viewership comes from platforms like digital viewing and over-the-top that have addressable functionality.

Yaccarino also said that NBCU will be expanding the use of its artificial intelligence systems to place ads in more contextually relevant places within shows.

Version 1.0 of NBCU’s contextual advertising system will connect commercials to content at the scene level. Version 2.0 will also connect the ads to other ads in the show, “so it makes more sense to the consumers seeing them,” Yaccarino said.

NBCU last year began selling its ads based on its own metric called CFlight, which combines Nielsen’s TV numbers with digital viewing from other sources.

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