By Joe LananeLMA Contributor

Cord-cutters have increasingly bypassed traditional broadcast television in favor of online platforms and Smart TVs that showcase their favorite programs and movies. NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal that includes 42 NBC and Telemundo stations, has addressed that shift with an advanced video advertising platform that helps local and regional advertisers target those viewers.

NBC Spot On debuted in February 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic effectively reinforced online viewing habits. This platform offering helps non-national clients launch Over-The-Top and Connected TV campaigns to any U.S. market, providing real-time reporting and results without having to go to multiple sources to place the ads.


The single-source solution “transforms local ad buying as we know it,” said Shawn Makhijani, senior vice president of NBC SpotOn and business development and strategy for the owned stations division. One year into launching, NBC Spot On clients collectively receive 1 billion monthly impressions, according to Makhijani.

“We think we’re the highest, but of course we can’t validate it,” he said. “By coming to us, you can go to one source to handle the complexities of a local campaign instead of coming to 20 different sources of inventory.”

Even complicated ad buys are no longer complicated, he insists, because NBC Spot On has built such a large stock of inventory using NBC-owned markets as well as directly acquired third-party inventory.

“Spot On really addressed a major hole in the digital space,” Makhijani said. “It’s really hard to find scale in the local market when targeting local audiences and you want to run against premium content.”

Using advanced data targeting, NBC Spot On clients can customize who receives their ads. For example, a food product that mostly advertised nationally decided recently to target its assumed audience using NBC Spot On. Their core customer is female, 25 to 54 years old and typically shops at Kroger.

NBC Spot On built a segment targeting that demographic, ensuring the client’s ads only go to the desired viewers. Makhijani said the campaign proved to be an overwhelming success.

“This client went from being a smallish client for us to creating a very strong partnership with them,” he said. “That’s more money to us that probably would have otherwise gone to Google and Facebook.”

This type of targeting also proved advantageous in an election year. Political clients are able to break down audiences as specific as possible, Makhijani said, making local media more attractive to political campaigns.

But such targeting isn’t a full-blown replacement to more traditional ad placements because only 50% to 70% of all households enable targeting. That is why NBC Spot On also provides traditional placements that allow clients to pick the programs they want to advertise against.

“If you’re only doing a data-targeted approach, you’re missing households,” Makhijani said. “You have to do both. A well-planned campaign includes traditional targeting and reach that TV provides, but then you mix it with a digital campaign. Then you reach everyone.”

By mixing ad-delivery approaches, Makhijani suggests that NBC Spot On is able to more effectively compete against the social media platforms for local ad dollars.

“We can use this momentum to really build a sustainable local media of the future,” he said.