NBC Promises to Move Away From Single Ad Currency (That Means Nielsen)

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Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

NBC Universal is committing to weaning itself off the single commercial currency that has dominated the TV advertising marketplace for decades.

The conglomerate, whose portfolio of TV networks spans NBC to Bravo, gathered top industry leaders across media and marketing at The Pool restaurant in New York City Tuesday morning to address some of the biggest issues plaguing the industry.

"We have a problem, you know it, I know it, we all know it," Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCU, said during her opening remarks.

Although Yaccarino did not mention Nielsen by name, Nielsen ratings have long been the industry's dominant currency. Yaccarino has previousy been vocal about the need to move away from buying and selling ads based on Nielsen age and sex demographics, which she says don't tell the whole story. (They have also shown long-term declines in audiences.) Yaccarino and other TV ad sales leaders have been focusing their efforts on metrics that reflect more targeted data and measure success by returns on investment.

While at least one Nielsen executive was in attendence at the meeting, no one from the company was scheduled to speak at the event.

Yaccarino implored those in attendance—who included Viacom's head of ad sales Sean Moran; Joe Marchese, who leads advertising at Fox Networks Group; Jeff Lucas, a TV vet now heading ad sales at Snap; Publicis Media Exchange CEO Dave Penski; and David Levy, president of Turner—to use the notecards at their table to write down one thing they or their company can do to "help fix and change this mess that we are in."

For its part, Yaccarino said NBCU will make TV smarter by "improving the consumer experience, making marketing more effective, weaning ourselves off single currency metric and become more committed and focused on addressing real business objectives."

"Who knows we might even reduce commercial loads across the board," she added.

"We cannot leave today without a meaningful plan for action and follow up," Yaccarino said.

More to come on what that plan of action actually is.

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