NBCUniversal Aims to Democratize CTV Through More Accessible Tech for Ad Buyers

Products like Peacock Ad Manager open up streaming to small business advertisers

Streaming video has transformed television advertising by making it possible for brands of all kinds to buy its inventory, and NBCUniversal aims to capitalize on this newfound accessibility, said Jessica Reed, its vice president of product marketing and content strategy.

In a conversation at Adweek’s NexTech conference in New York, Reed shared several examples of how the publisher has worked to bring a broader array of advertisers into the space. 

“We want to operate however our clients and agencies prefer to do business,” Reed told platforms reporter Catherine Perloff on stage. “Our goal is to democratize access to our inventory.”

Like digital advertising more broadly, the CTV space faces lingering questions over consumer privacy issues. The looming deprecation of the third-party cookie and the broader challenge of signal loss have influenced much of its strategy in the past few years.

Data and flexibility

NBCUniversal has responded to the challenge of signal loss by prioritizing first-party data, but the company offers a variety of ways for advertisers to work with it, according to Reed, who stressed the importance of this flexibility.

When a brand approaches NBCUniversal to advertise, the first question Reed asks is whether the company has first-party data. According to Reed, companies that have direct relationships with their customers—especially those in ecommerce or with loyalty programs—often have the richest data sets.

If the client has first-party data, NBCUniversal can offer direct matching through products like Amazon S3, third-party safe havens, or clean room technology such as Snowflake. To tack on additional scale, it can also create lookalike audiences using proprietary technology.

Jessica Reed (left), vice president of product marketing and content strategy, NBCUIvan Piedra

“It’s hard to deny that first-party data is essential to future-proofing our business, as well as a way to give our targeting more precision,” Reed said. 

For advertisers without first-party data, NBCUniversal is able to work with third-party cookies, but it can also build audience segments through its own portfolio, according to Reed.

The diversity of the NBCUniversal portfolio—which includes the Peacock streaming service, news publishers like NBC, Fandango, its theme park division, movie studios and even a golf product called Golf Now—enables the company to build behavioral and lifestyle segments for these potential clients. 

This further reduces the barrier to entry for smaller advertisers, Reed said, adding, “For some of those smaller business sectors, we can actually source first-party data from our own enterprise datasets for them.”

A solution for smaller brands

NBCUniversal unveiled a fully self-service ad platform, Peacock Ad Manager, earlier this year, said Reed.

The broadcaster intends for Peacock Ad Manager to offer an experience similar to the one ad buyers might expect when transacting with Google or Meta, in that they will be able to log in, make automated buys and track campaign performance all within one system.

The product offers a cumulative reach of 180 million monthly users across the NBCUniversal portfolio, according to Reed. It currently operates using third-party targeting, but the company plans to add first-party data and outcome-based measurement.

Although large advertisers can use Peacock Ad Manager, NBCUniversal envisions the platform as a solution for smaller brands that might lack enterprise relationships with demand-side platforms.  

“[Peacock Ad Manager] is a unique and exciting offering that we are bringing to the marketplace, because it opens up access to this premium content that these brands might not be able to access otherwise,” Reed said.

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