MediaPost: NBC News Plans To Launch Ads ‘That blur the line between editorial and brand content’ Update: Or Not?

By Alex Weprin 

MediaPost reports that NBC News (specifically NBC News Digital) is planning a shift away from advertising targeting demographics (i.e. adults 25-54, women 18-49, etc) and towards “personas” of news consumers, with names like “Always On,” “Skimmers,” “Veterans” and “Reporters.”

The news consumer personas, which were developed by NBC’s sales and research teams in conjunction with a variety of third-party research suppliers, essentially cluster news consumers into four main groups, based on how passionate they are about news and how much they utilize digital media to access it.

MediaPost also reports that NBC is planning to launch new advertising creative that blurs the line betwen editorial and advertising content. Update: NBC takes issue with that report. More below.


Kim says the new persona-based audience targeting schemes are not simply for the purpose of pitching advertisers, but are the new guideposts NBC News is using to develop its news content, the way it distributes and even markets it to consumers. As a result, NBC News is also changing its digital news products, including the advertising formats that marketers can use to communicate to news consumers, with an emphasis on new “native formats” that blur the line between editorial and brand content that will make advertising messages more seamless and far less distinguishable from NBC News’ actual news feeds.

Update: NBC says that the MediaPost report is inaccurate, and says:

We’re creating ad experiences that are relevant to consumers and advertisers based on context, but there is no blurring of lines when it comes to our editorial content– that is complete separate and standalone from advertising and branding, as it always has been and always will be.

A number of NBCUniversal properties have been trying to move away from demographic targeting and towards persona targeting. Bravo has been pitching advertisers on its “Affluencers” for a few years, while last year Syfy shifted its focus to “Igniters.”