Linda Yaccarino: Building a One Video Future For Advertisers & Partners
As Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships at NBCUniversal, Linda Yaccarino is an advocate for a better advertising industry, and is transforming the $70 billion video ecosystem. Her 2,000 plus global team connects established and emerging brands to hundreds of millions of viewers, driving economic impact across the industry.
As the first ad chief to develop a unified trading platform, Yaccarino has united ad capabilities across Comcast NBCUniversal and Sky. She has launched #WhyTrustMatters and #OurPartnershipCommitment campaigns calling for a return to values-based, trusted partnerships, underscoring the most important issues facing her contemporaries, plus she serves as a leading voice for uplifting young girls and women through campaigns like #ShesMy. As 2021-2022 Ad Council Chair, Yaccarino partnered with the business community, the White House, and government agencies to create a COVID-19 vaccination campaign reaching over 200 million Americans. To use advertising to advance equity, she has helped launch initiatives including BOLD, a program for employing veterans, Scene in Color, a collaboration with Target to elevate emerging BIPOC creatives in film, and a partnership with Telemundo to release a Latina-centric storytelling guide.
We recently sat down with Yaccarino to discuss her priorities for the Global Advertising Sales & Partnerships division after a record-setting Upfront, why Comcast NBCUniversal is a content and technology company, #OurPartnershipCommitment and the importance of modernizing measurement.Please read the conversation below to learn more.
Q: What are the major priorities for Global Advertising and Partnerships?
A: “Three things: content, technology and partnerships. We know that we are the biggest content company in the United States. And our content stands on the shoulders of a technology giant, Comcast, alongside NBCUniversal’s own best-in-class technology offerings that power ad innovation. So, when you sit at the intersection of those two things, content and technology, then partnerships become even more important. We're talking to our clients and partners about all the capabilities that we have developed and rolled out, that are unparalleled – and unlike other companies who are pushing marketers away, we are inviting them in.”
Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the media industry over the past five years?
A: “As consumer expectations and viewing patterns change, businesses are shifting to models built on partnership. For decades, media companies were built around exclusivity, asking audiences to show up in one place at one time for the best content – creating narrow operating lanes. Meanwhile, digital platforms grew by relying on user-generated content, sometimes a risky business. The consumer does not differentiate between channels, or even time of day anymore. Audiences crave quality storytelling on every screen – making platform exclusivity impractical and even undesirable. It’s why tech giants are producing award-winning content, as content legends ramp up investments in data and rethink distribution relationships. Both sides know that to excel in one arena, you must invest in the other. So, to best serve audiences and advertisers, Comcast NBCUniversal forms many partnerships.
Q: Why is it so important to modernize measurement?
A: “If measurement is the underlying foundation of this entire industry, then the one thing it should do is to be able to measure consumption accurately, quickly and act as a real reflection of consumer behavior. Unfortunately, the current state of measurement doesn't reflect that consumer behavior. From a company like Comcast NBCUniversal's position, we want to be able to appropriately measure value and monetize our content. Currently, we're like an NFL quarterback who throws for a touchdown, but we only get four points instead of six points. And the solution will not be a single currency. A multi-currency measurement ecosystem is required to unlock a complete view of the customer, in which different providers fulfill different needs — whether it's connecting TV spots to search data or to offline conversions.”
Q: Cookies are becoming obsolete, and data engineers/scientists are in high demand across the industry. What makes Comcast NBCUniversal an attractive workplace for data technology professionals?
A: “Comcast NBCUniversal is not just a content company, but also a technology company. We understand that identity is the new currency, and data and first-party access are not exclusive to social platforms anymore. That’s why we recently launched our first party data product, NBCUnified, which brings together more than a billion consumer touch points across Comcast NBCUniversal and offers the same digital capabilities as search and social platforms.”
Q: You often refer to the #OurPartnershipCommitment campaign when announcing new advertising innovations. What makes an organization like Comcast NBCUniversal a partnership company?
A: “As we see it, a partnership company goes beyond the transactional to achieve the transformational. It has the courage to explore collaboration, even with the so-called “competition.” And it can’t be an afterthought. To future-proof our companies, build trust, accelerate innovation and multiply impact, partnerships must be proactive. So, in this interconnected ecosystem, where we are all each other’s viewers and users – it’s worth asking ourselves some questions, like:
Of course, there are more questions. But these can help us start to define a vision and commitment to partnership and shift our mindsets towards collaboration. Because with that mindset, we’ll uncover new opportunities across the entire consumer and advertiser journey. For Comcast NBCUniversal, that’s meant creating engaging stories or experiences with partners like Apple News, Snap, TikTok, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube, reimagining CTV with partners like Freewheel, Mediaocean or the Trade Desk, and strengthening our offerings with Adobe and other companies. It’s also meant working with the industry to develop new measurement tools to understand impact and viewership.”