NBC lightens TV ad load in response to falling demand from brands
NBCUniversal is cutting back on commercials and reshaping its lineup of marketing services, as more brands hit the brakes on ad campaigns during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s chairwoman and head of advertising and partnerships, made the announcement that the company was recalibrating its TV advertising load to adjust to the latest demands of marketers and viewers. The TV conglomerate, owned by Comcast, runs NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, USA and other network and digital properties.
“Marketers across every industry have asked to pause their advertising plans or shift their messages, and they’re looking for ideas, tools, and strategies from their most trusted partners,” Yaccarino said in the blog post. “So, in light of everything we’re seeing and hearing, we want to do what’s right for our audiences and marketers.”
“In that same spirit, starting today, you will see more content from us, new ad innovations, and therefore less commercial time,” Yaccarino said.
One of the benefits of fewer ads will be more time to report on the pandemic, Yaccarino said. “By reducing commercial time we’ll give more time to our news divisions … to share important updates and special programming with our audiences,” Yaccarino said.
The company is reacting to the changing circumstances in media and advertising, which have both been affected by the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. There are brand safety considerations with marketers worried about how their messaging will be received during the crisis, and there also is a looming recession forcing companies to rethink their spending.
Almost a quarter of advertisers said they paused all ad spending amid the pandemic, according to a recent survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Meanwhile, 46 percent of brands have adjusted their advertising spending, the survey found.
It’s numbers like that that have NBC looking for a new strategy to serve marketers. On top of lightening the ad load for TV commercials, Yaccarino outlined a broader strategy to work with marketers.
Yaccarino detailed how NBC could become more of a consultant to marketers, helping them craft messages and position products to capitalize on the move to e-commerce. Yaccarino said there would be new “commerce technologies” on offer.
“Our teams are scaling our new commerce technologies, while waiving technology fees,” Yaccarino said. “Simultaneously, we’re opening up more creative services, building custom marketing materials for more clients, and giving our partners more access to remote production teams, brand assets, and talent—all without the associated fees.”
This isn’t the first time NBC has adjusted its ad inventory. In the past two years, the company has responded to the growing interest in ad-free streaming rivals like Netflix by promising to reduce ad time by 10 percent on TV.
Live TV has taken a major hit during the pandemic because sports have been on hiatus. For instance, the network will no longer be able to broadcast the Summer Olympics this year, the event having been postponed until 2021. Meanwhile, NBC late night shows have been moved to remote productions with hosts Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers creating their programs from home studios.
The company is also in the middle of rolling out Peacock, its streaming app that will compete with Hulu and Disney+ and other services. Peacock is free with ads, and is set to launch April 15 for Comcast customers. It is scheduled to launch nationwide July 15.
“Even as we face this challenging moment for our nation and our world,” Yaccarino said, “we can start building a path forward that will last long after this crisis ends.”