As part of the kick off for its annual leadership conference, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) featured a keynote from its new chairman – NBC Universal President and Chief Business Officer Krishan Bhatia – that at times sounded more like an extensive pitch for NBCU’s leadership than the IAB’s or the rest of the industry.
“We propose here that streaming is the future of the ad-supported ecosystem,” Bhatia began, though it was unclear whether the pronounce was referring to NBCU or the industry leaders from the supply and demand sides attending the conference, some of whom might argue that there is more to digital advertising and marketing than streaming services.
“Let’s start by dispelling the narrative that consumers flock to streaming so that they can avoid ads,” Bhatia continued, citing data from TVision indicating that ad-supported streaming services “exceeded subscription streaming in number of hours watched in the U.S.” and adding, “That’s why NBC Universal is investing billions of dollars in Peacock to provide consumers and marketers with a better experience than ever before.”
He said streaming currently represents a third of NBCU’s “video consumption” and “within 18 months, we believe that number will climb to half.”
He then went on to pitch other “lanes” NBCU is working on to transform the digital advertising industry, including a massive consumer identity graph, as well as its push to lead the industry’s shift to a “multi-currency future.”
He touted NBCU’s adoption of Ad-ID – an ad identifier coding system owned by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies – as a requirement to advertise on its Peacock streaming platform and said NBCU recently expanded the requirement to include all of its platforms distributing the Olympics and Super Bowl.
“And soon, we will do the same thing for our entire streaming portfolio,” he added, criticizing the rest of the industry’s supply chain for moving slowly “since our rollout.”
Bhatia alluded to “at least four other media companies” being poised to follow NBCU’s lead in adopting Ad-ID and added “hundreds of marketers will follow soon.”
He then plugged NBCU’s “fourth lane,” a massive “first-party” consumer identity database dubbed “NBC Unified” and said it has currently amassed the identities of 150 million people and would “scale to 200 million in short order.”
He said the identities were acquired via all NBC Universal properties, but did not say how they were, whether they were explicit consumer opt-ins for targeting and retargeting purposes, and whether they were in any way connected to NBCU parent Comcast Corp.
He implied NBCU created NBC Unified, because “third-party identifiers are fading” and that “first-party data is the future” and called on the industry to develop standards for universal identity resolution and “cleanrooms” that can enable media companies and marketers to identify and target consumers in “privacy-compliant” ways.
“The maturation of blockchain and cleanroom technologies, matching first-party data at scale in anonymized and privacy-compliant ways is quickly becoming the norm,” he asserted, adding that “the NBC Universal insights hub – our data cleanroom environment – is redefining how agencies and brand partners activate against consumer insights to get better results.”
Bhatia’s next lane pushed NBCU’s long-term plan to reshape the ad industry’s “currency” from the self-regulated industry approach that has reigned since the 1960s to NBCU’s vision of a “multi-currency future” and reminded attendees about its leadership in pushing for it.
“Last fall, NBC Universal issued a measurement RFP to 54 companies in a call for innovation. The response was overwhelming, over 120 measurement companies raised their hands to build the future with us,” he said, adding that “just last week, after three months of reviews, we released an in-depth look at eight potential currency contenders, a resource for the entire industry, with more to come.”