One of her conversation changers is Project Symphony -- an
internal initiative NBCU is bringing to the market for the first
time. It singles out its own select projects to promote heavily
across platforms, including in partnership with Comcast. That will
allow brands the treatment that Universal Studios' "The Lorax"
received last year when the Dr. Seuss character appeared on the
bottom of the screen during TV shows across NBCU's networks, made a
cameo on "The Voice" and was plugged on "Late Night With Jimmy
Fallon." "The leverage we have is the sheer amount of content and
the way we can creatively stitch it together to meet reach needs,"
Ms. Yaccarino said. "Aggregation of important ratings points to
reach precise customers -- whether it's moms or independent women
or upscale men -- that's really what we are talking about."
She plans to increase reach by packaging some of NBCU's cable
assets along with broadcast.
In that regard, her greatest ally may be the Dunphys. Media
buyers believe "Modern Family," which will make its syndicated
debut in the fall on USA, could be NBCU's biggest lever during the
upfront. The sitcom is expected to change the face of prime time
for the network and attract a younger audience than many USA
"They want to sell ["Modern Family'] as prime time," said Gary
Carr, senior VP-national broadcast at TargetCast. "They
believe it is a high-enough-rated show that they can sell it
alongside prime-time originals and try to get premium CPMs," or
cost of reaching 1,000 viewers.
It's no surprise the hard-charging Ms. Yaccarino is expected to
be aggressive in seeking pricing premiums during upfronts,
especially at USA, which historically went after volume at the
expense of price. "Linda was brought in to try to make a correction
and bring CPMs closer to that of Turner," said Marc Morse, senior
VP-national buying, RJ Palmer.
Prior to joining NBCU, Ms. Yaccarino spent nearly two decades at
Turner, where she was behind the company's "broadcast replacement"
initiative, working to position Turner's suite of cable channels in
the marketplace as premium buys -- as good as broadcast. Before
leaving Turner for NBCU in 2011, she was exec VP-chief operating
officer of ad sales, marketing and acquisitions.
At NBCU, Ms. Yaccarino has her team in place after a reshuffling
of executives and adding four new titles to the company's ad-sales
roster in February. Since being acquired by Comcast, NBCU has gone
through several strategic changes, including naming Bonnie Hammer
as head of all of NBCU's cable entertainment properties and moving
Lauren Zalaznick to focus on the digital units.
It's an unprecedented move by NBCU for one sales executive to
oversee all assets, while most big media companies, like Walt Disney and
News Corp., still
have broadcast and cable ad sales in silos, said Todd Gordon, exec
VP-U.S. director, Magna Global.
But this may not be the case for much longer. The artificial
walls that have made broadcast, cable and digital their own
entities are dissolving among both marketers and viewers.
NBCU's restructure is expected to streamline the buying process
for media buyers and their clients. "We are constantly preaching a
holistic approach to digital -- moving ad sales under one roof
helps facilitate this," Mr. Gordon said. "It allows us to find
audience when and where they are watching. NBCU's new structure
allows us to have one conversation."
While the restructure should make it easier for buyers to put
together packages for clients, buyers have been finding this reach
in other ways for several years. "I can go out to 30 different
companies and piece it together myself," Mr. Gordon said.
But we are rapidly approaching a point where prime time will no
longer be the most effective outlet for advertisers, said Kris
Magel, exec VP-national broadcast at Initiative. "We need to become
more creative in finding reach as it becomes scarcer," he said.
That's Ms. Yaccarino's game plan, too.