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NBCUniversal is hoping to seize what it sees as whitespace in the streaming and advanced TV advertising market, launching a first-party identity platform called NBCUnified, meant to allow advertisers to track and monitor consumer relationships without the need for cookies or device IDs.
The company unveiled the new advertising ID product at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show. NBCUnified combines data from the company’s touchpoints, including streaming viewership, newsletter subscriptions, theme park visits and ecommerce purchases to create some 150 million person-level IDs and 50 million household IDs. That data can in turn be matched with first-party data from marketers, and with third-party data from licensed providers.
“In the world of advanced TV, video entertainment, we didn’t see a leader, so we had calls to activate first-party data,” John Lee, chief data officer for NBCUniversal Advertising & Partnerships, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Lee added that the move was driven by the need to figure out “how do we continue to maintain addressability and leverage advertiser first-party data and first-party relationships with consumers in a way that doesn’t rely on third-party identifiers like cookies and device IDs?”
“We thought we were in a good position to do that, given our direct, self-identified relationships with consumers that we have,” he added.
The move by NBCUniversal follows the decision by Apple and Google to effectively kill off the “cookie,” which has been the backbone of internet advertising since its invention in the mid-1990s. Cookies, alongside device identifiers tied to smartphones and computers, have been used for advertising targeting and monitoring ever since.
The two biggest changes are a proposal from Google to eliminate cookies, and a move by Apple to allow users of its devices to opt out of ad tracking. A number of companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are grappling with that fallout.
But Lee says that NBCU is not trying to create another advertising ID system similar to what the tech giants are doing, and wants to build something that is more open and cross-platform.
“It is not NBCU’s goal to create another walled garden,” Lee says. “And what I mean by that is, like the walled gardens, we are extremely conscious and careful about managing consumer data for privacy and security purposes, while at the same time we recognize our agency and brand partner’s needs to be able to work across the ecosystem beyond NBCU for things like cross-platform agency and cross-platform measurement.”
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