NBCU's Yaccarino: Media Giants Have 'Responsibility' For Data, Brand Safety

NBCUniversal’s top ad sales executive, Linda Yaccarino, criticized technology companies for data and brand safety concerns -- while noting that it is up to media companies and marketers to ensure that they have a “responsibility” for data and and brand safety going forward.

Yaccarino made the comments at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Video Symposium, held Monday in New York City.

With the IAB Digital Content NewFronts now over and with the broadcast TV upfront set for next week, Yaccarino teed up something of a preview of what's to come at NBCU’s presentation, set for Monday morning at Radio City Music Hall.

“We are feeling really great about where NBCU is. We feel confident talking about where we are, because there are a lot of companies feeling a lot worse,” Yaccarino said.



“It is no secret that a lot of our social media friends are under quite a microscope -- some of us would say, under fire. It is a classic case of fool me once, shame on you; fool clients and consumers over and over again, and something needs to be done about it.”

Traditional media and TV companies typically do not have those brand safety problems, because they run "premium content,"  Yaccarino argued.

“It is something we don’t have to think about and our clients don’t have to think about. But for clients that don’t have this content, or the brands that have no idea what their ad is running next to, unfortunately this time is cause for great alarm,” she said.

Yaccarino argues that concerns over privacy and data are likewise, all things considered, not equal between media companies and technology firms.

“My company would never be in that situation [Facebook’s data security controversy]. It couldn’t be," she said.

"Think about why. The FCC would come down on us so fast your head would spin,” she said. “Even if we could do it ourselves, we would not be in that situation, which got me thinking, why? When you get the opportunity to make the right decision, you make the right decision.”

Yaccarino added: “I wish we lived in a world where we could trust every company to do the right thing every time, but we can't.” 

It was that responsibility that led NBC to create what it calls CFlight, its own-house effort to create a unified cross-platform measurement solution. It was also behind NBC’s decision to cut down on the number off ads that appear on the company’s platforms, as well as to reduce the clutter.

NBCU says it will reduce prime-time ad loads by 10% over the next year, and will reduce ad clutter by 20%. Yaccarino said that the preliminary findings from those reduced ad loads was positive, for both consumers and marketers.

“It was more engaging for the consumers and more effective for the advertisers,” she said. “It wasn’t the easy thing to do, but it was the responsible thing to do.”

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