CES: Yaccarino Pushing on Ad Loads and Addressability

Artificial intelligence to put commercials in context
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Linda Yaccarino

Linda Yaccarino

NBCUniversal chairman for ad sales and client partnerships Linda Yaccarino said that her company will continue to cut ad clutter, increase addressable advertising and make ads more contextually relevant by using artificial intelligence.

Yaccarino, one of the leaders of TV’s movement to offer a better experience to viewers with fewer smarter commercials, was interviewed by Medialink founder Michael Kassan on Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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

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.

“So we’re there,” said said, and effort like the Open AP consortium are necessarily for making it easier for advertisers to transact and access TV company’s best-performing inventory.

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.

She said that it’s important for advertisers to choose their distribution partners carefully to makes sure their ads are running in appropriate content.

“That’s definitely a heightened focus in numerous conversations that we have with marketers all the time,” she said.

NBCU has laid in information about its shows in order to allow artificial intelligence to put ads in the right places.

“We’ve got at least 10,000 of our shows already tagged by hundreds of emotional attributes to offer and automated platform to go to our marketers that are able to take their creative matching the emotional attributes to place their spots at the scene level--I have to repeat that--at the scene level across the entire NBCU platform to be able to enhance the performance of their creative when matched with great content,” she said.

Version 1.0 of NBCU 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.

Yaccarino said the change signal to both traditional and new direct-to-consumer advertisers that TV is good for their businesses.

“We’re solely focused on their profitability and business outcomes. We’re excited that we’re not playing on an old playing field that’s officiated by an obsolete referee that’s called a C3 or C7 ratings,” she 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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