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NBC Focuses on Power of Out-of-Home

Jan 6, 2008  •  Post A Comment

In a sign of the emerging power of TV outside the home, NBC Universal will hold what media buyers are likening to an “upfront” presentation for its digital out-of-home assets Jan. 16.
The media company is hoping to get more advertisers to consider NBC for placing ads on TV screens in supermarkets, near gas-station pumps and in taxi cabs and arenas, among other places. Set to be held in Studio 8H, the NBC presentation will address about 200 advertisers and media buyers.
It’s telling that NBC has chosen this year to roll out its first out-of-home upfront. As the Writers Guild of America strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers drags on, it’s growing more likely that the big broadcast networks will pull back from the glitzy May presentations for their prime-time schedules.
Should the strike, which began Nov. 5, continue past late January, it will eat into the networks’ development season, where they devise comedy and drama pilots to show to advertisers. It may be in many networks’ interest to highlight media properties other than traditional TV programs.
In the past, broadcast network rivals have held presentations to advertisers early in the year in hopes of getting marketers to commit dollars well in advance of the May presentations. In February, for example, Yahoo held a meeting for marketers, telling them they should factor the Web portal into their early planning and describing how Yahoo could help them reach targeted audiences based on defined areas of interest. The move was an effort to capture dollars well before TV networks, which are increasingly putting more programming online.
NBC’s out-of-home upfront, however, is seen as a testament to the growing interest advertisers have in reaching consumers more closely in places where they intend to make an actual purchase.
“The concept has been there for a while, and people are still trying to perfect it,” said Steve Kalb, senior VP-director of broadcast at Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Mullen. “There’s something intriguing” about reaching a consumer at the moment he is interested in buying a product, and has money in hand to do so, he added. Ads that run on TVs in particular places could remind consumers about certain goods or even make offers relevant to their shopping experience.
Mullen has talked to NBC about its digital out-of-home assets, Mr. Kalb said, and “there is some interest [from clients]. We need to do a deeper dive and see how it fits into the plan.”
NBC has established partnerships that allow it to place its video content in more than 10 types of venues, said Mark French, senior VP/general manager of NBC Everywhere, NBC Universal’s digital out-of-home media unit.
In 2008, he said, content on the screens—and the ads that run adjacent to it—should reach people more than 3 billion times.
Digital signage could bring in revenue of more than $2.5 billion by the end of 2010, according to a recent report from market research firm Carmel Group.
Other major media companies are looking to get into the space as well. In September, CBS Corp. purchased SignStorey, a company that distributes programming and advertising to retail stores, for $71.5 million in cash.
SignStorey’s plasma screens are in grocery chains nationwide, including Albertsons, Price Chopper, Pathmark and Bi-Lo, strategically located at deli counters and/or in the produce sections. The deal helps CBS run pieces of programming and promotions in stores while people shop, and can bring advertisers along for the ride.
Media buyers say the out-of-home screens require better measurement. Mr. French said NBCU has taken pains to build a network that reaches a “captive measurable audience,” or one that only measures the people who get value from seeing the content—such as a person who watches an NBC movie review segment in a New York cab without turning the presentation off.
NBC also has tried to put in place a system that can use both recognizable national content as well as relevant programming from local stations in specific geographic regions.
This current NBC presentation is just a “reaction to the marketplace,” Mr. French said. The meeting allows advertisers and buyers to determine “what makes sense for their brand, for their agency.”

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