This upfront season, NBC Universal is looking to prove TV's worth to advertisers, far beyond assurances that commercials will reach large audieneces of women or men in broad age groups.
NBCU is looking to pitch certain inventory more like digital with a data-driven ad product that will let marketers better reach more specific audiences beyond the traditional age and sex demographics, said Linda Yaccarino, chairman-advertising sales and client partnerships, NBC Universal.
"Advertisers don't need to choose between data-driven targeting, which lives mostly in digital, and the scale of TV," Ms. Yaccarino said.
The Audience Targeting Platform, as NBCU has named it, will incorporate set-top box data and information from other sources to identify top performing ad inventory for select ad categories across NBCU's portfolio of TV networks, including broadcast prime time. NBC Universal owns channels such as NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo and E!
The company will make about a third of its inventory available to power the product.
The process could determine that a commercial in E!'s "Fashion Police" or Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" is actually more valuable for a specific ad category than commercial time reaching a bigger audience in broadcast prime time.
That could help not just advertisers, but present an opportunity to NBCU to charge more on normally lower-cost inventory. One of the hesitancies of media agencies and their clients in this area has been exactly that question: Will using and sharing data give networks more power to increase rates on under-valued ad time?
Ms. Yaccarino said the work won't necessarily mean higher prices for marketers.
As marketers increasingly allocate more of their budgets to digital advertising, and following an overall lackluster TV upfront that continued into the later so-called scatter market, traditional TV programmers are keen on positioning TV to better compete with digital when it comes to access to data.
"Clients want more precision, effectiveness and efficiencies," Ms. Yaccarino said.
The Audience Targeting Platform builds on NBCU's household addressable and data product, NBCU+ Powered By Comast, which it offered during last year's upfront.
Several other network groups have been incorporating other forms of data beyond Nielsen's traditional ratings metrics in deals with advertisers. Turner Broadcasting offered several ad products to agencies and their clients in last year's ad haggle allowing them to overlay data, while Hallmark Channel was one of the first to strike secondary deals utilizing other forms of data.