NBC plans massive pitch session for its digital screen networks

Signs of changing times … from Advertising Age

NEW YORK — 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, in taxi cabs and arenas, among other places. Set to be held in Studio 8H, the NBC presentation will address approximately 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 strike drags on, it’s growing more likely that the big broadcast networks will pull back from their 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.

The piece goes on to say this session 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 they are interested in buying products, and have 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, he said, and “there is some interest [from clients]. We need to do a deeper dive and see how it fits into the plan.”

Mark French, the evidently 13-year-old senior VP-GM of NBC Universal’s digital out-of-home media unit, said NBC Everywhere has 10 networks to sell to and can reach people more than 3 billion times. “There are very strategic, thinking agencies right now that are looking to do deals basically right after the event,” French said.

When very big media starts pitching this digital screen stuff to a couple hundred New York media planners, I’m pretty sure that’s a good a moment for our space. However, it is a little interesting that they’ve latched on to digital signage at a time when the strike means all they’ve got put on the air are reality shows, talk shows and the news.

UPDATE: I’m still working on what the hell an “upfront” is, however Bill and Rob seem to know and are unimpressed by what NBC is up to.

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