Broadcaster? Entertainment company? No and no. NBC Universal (GE) is a “full-scale marketing services company,” or wants to be, says one company exec.
Everyone on the Media and Internet panel at yesterday’s Gridley conference in Manhattan, including NBC Universal SVP Jessica Schell, agreed that while the current downturn in advertising may be cyclical, one of its effects — the dominance of performance marketing — will be a fundamental and permanent shift.
Which is perhaps one reason why Jessica might have been so eager to convince the audience that they shouldn’t regard NBC Universal as an old school broadcast network that is simply trying to bring its huge network audience — its many eyeballs ready for brand ad impressions — online.
No, Jessica said, NBC U wants to be a “Full-scale marketing services company.”
The message: Hey advertisers looking for good bang for the buck: We’re more than just Super Bowl ads. NBC can do performance marketing online and product placements in TV shows — anything you want. Just ask.
The phrasing suprised at least one panelist, Liberty Media’s Michael Zeisser:
“Jessica just called NBC a ‘full-scale marketing services company.’ I thought NBC U was a broadcast company? Trying to change who you are in the middle of the storm — it’s very hard.”
Saying that becoming “full-scale marketing services company” was more of an internal goal than a current reality for NBC Universal, Jessica explained:
“We’d like to be able to offer more than the 30-second spot. We view advertisers as our customers just as much as our viewers and we see them looking at broad reach, but also more integration. [Calling ourselves a full-scale marketing services company] is just a recognition that there’s big pools of cash out there that we’re not a part of.”
We talked to Jessica after the panel and she was surprised everyone was surprised to hear NBC viewed itself in such a way. “It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?” she said.
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