NBCUniversal Will Centralize and Simplify Ad Buying on a Single Platform

Ryan McConville takes newly created role heading up ad platforms and operations

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NBCUniversal is using a variety of resources from within the Comcast stable to accelerate its modernization efforts.
NBCUniversal

As NBCUniversal continues its evolution into a more digitally native operation, the Comcast-owned broadcaster has appointed Ryan McConville to the newly created role of executive vice president of ad platforms and operations.

McConville, the former president and COO of mobile advertising company Kargo, is charged with building out a team to enhance NBCUniversal’s media offering with wares such as AI-powered ad placement and cross-platform measurement. He will report to Krishan Bhatia, NBCUniversal’s evp of business operations and strategy.

The television industry as a whole has struggled to adjust to the rapid changes prompted by the audiences moving to streaming services, with many of the largest names still operating on legacy systems.

This makes the task of implementing cross-platform ad buys—delivering campaigns to desired audiences across different devices—both complex to implement and difficult to measure, a situation both Bhatia and McConville intend to change at NBCUniversal.

“[What] Krishan and I are both focused on changing is centralizing product strategy,” McConville told Adweek. “We want to take a single platform approach.”

His team aims to streamline the process of implementing ad campaigns across various inventory types, from linear TV to on-demand sources like its YouTube channel, with a simplified booking interface. “The first big thing that we want to do is provide a system that simplifies, abstracts and automates the process for the advertiser and the internal business stakeholders,” he said.

Bhatia added that the advertising ecosystem is evolving from a broadcast unit model—where everyone sees the same content at the same time—to one that is increasingly going to be based on impressions gathered across many different touch points.

This requires building and operating a centralized platform that can aggregate ad buys from a host of different sources such as direct-sold campaigns, programmatically purchased inventory and self-serve platforms, which are typically used by small to medium businesses and direct-to-consumer brands.

Earlier this year, NBCUniversal announced the completion on a tie-up with Freewheel to unify its ad delivery system, described as the “connective tissue” between its constituent parts.

NBCUniversal’s modernization strategy has also involved cooperating with its traditional competitors—under threat from digital natives such as Amazon and Google—as part of the OpenAP consortium that last month announced the rollout of a joint linear and digital inventory marketplace.

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