NBCUniversal said it would rejigger the executive team overseeing its advertising sales, elevating two executives and parting ways with two others as traditional media sellers grapple with new demands from a Madison Avenue increasingly focused on buying broader packages of commercial time across many different outlets.
Laura Molen and Mark Marshall were each named a president of NBCU’s ad sales division. Each will supervise day-to-day national sales efforts for different parts of NBCU’s portfolio. Marshall will continue to oversee ad sales for the NBC broadcast network, but add sports and advanced advertising sales and client partnerships to his purview. Molen will continue to supervise ad sales for the company’s targeted networks and its Spanish-language assets, but will add cable entertainment, news and digital partnerships to her duties.
Molen and Marshall will report to Linda Yaccarino, who remains in her role at chairman of NBCU advertising sales and partnerships. Mike Rosen and Scott Schiller, who supervised advanced ad sales and digital sales at NBCU, respectively, are expected to leave the company. Schiller will continue to work with NBCU through a transition period, and will serve as IAB Chairman until the end of the year. Dan Lovinger, who oversees ad sales for NBCU’s sports properties, is expected to report to Marshall.
The moves come as media companies are gearing up for an era in which advertisers are increasingly able to hone in on specific audiences – and use digital technology to find them across multiple media venues. Simply put, digital technology – and the data it generates – allows advertisers to gain granular information about the consumers they hope to attract, and more marketers are using that information in ways that help them chase particular niches, rather than broader audiences. NBCU is part of a consortium called “Open A.P.” for example, which offers ways for advertisers to find audience categories such as expectant mothers or first-time car buyers. Viacom, Fox Networks Group, AT&T’s Turner and Univision are also part of the group.
“Marketers need the ability to reach their specific audience – not a general demographic,” Yaccarino said in a recent speech.
In an interview, Molen and Marshall articulated a strategy aimed at helping advertisers extract more value from their NBCU advertising purchases. “We are going to look to continue to evolve our group to really put clients and their business at the center of what we do,” said Molen. The moves will help marketers identify opportunities with NBCU more quickly and “in a more streamlined approach,” said Marshall.
NBCU isn’t the only company shaking up its interactions with advertisers. Walt Disney Co. recently combined ad sales for ESPN and its portfolio of ABC and Disney cable networks – the first time the two divisions will not be sold separately. And 21stCentury Fox plans to put Marianne Gambelli, a veteran ad-sales executive who currently oversees ad sales for its Fox News unit, over the assets that will remain once Fox sells the bulk of its portfolio to Walt Disney.