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NBCUniversal Leans Into AI In Upfront Ad Sales Push

NBCUniversal plans to start using generative AI in its ad sales efforts, the company announced Wednesday at its One24 event for advertisers.

AI technology will specifically be used to drive audience targeting and advertiser performance as marketers continue to seek ways to make their messages more precise.

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The AI initiative is one of several introduced during One24, which was held in Studio 8H in the company’s Rockefeller Center headquarters. The fourth annual event is a lead-up to the main NBCU upfront, which this year will be May 13 at Radio City Music Hall.

The AI offering analyzes large swaths of programming and digital content across the NBCU portfolio and pairs it with the company’s first-party data to produce “emotion-based, AI-powered audience segments,” in the words of an official announcement. NBCU says it has developed 300 segments that help advertisers match content to viewers.

Programmatic buying, an increasingly prevalent system that reduces friction by automating many aspects of the ad process, is coming to the Olympics for the first time this summer with the Paris Games. Through a partnership with The Trade Desk, NBCU is opening up private marketplace, biddable access for advertisers, from the U.S. Olympic Trials to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Among the other ad enhancements coming to NBCU is Virtual Concessions, which lets viewers getting set to watch live sports or movies order food, beverages and other items for delivery. Another new offering, Must Shop TV, will outfit six franchises (Below Deck, Love Island USA, Southern Charm, Summer House, Top Chef and Winter Hours) with e-commerce capabilities.

On the measurement front, NBCU is introducing One Platform Total Measurement, a new effort to capture viewership across platforms and teaming with VideoAmp, EDO and Kochava on various initiatives. While Nielsen remains the dominant third-party purveyor of viewing numbers, media companies in recent years have mounted increasing efforts to explore alternate or supplemental currencies.

“Television today is a full-funnel performance vehicle where marketers can launch, build and grow their brands across any screen at scale,” said Mark Marshall, Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships, NBCU, in a press release. “At One24, we’re continuing to drive our legacy of innovation, moving consumers from aspiration to action and partnering with marketers of all sizes to use technology to move their businesses forward.”

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