NBCU ad boss adds local ads, Symphony, and new data unit to purview

NBCUniversal ad boss Linda Yaccarino is taking on a larger role within the media conglomerate as global chairman of advertising and partnerships, the company announced on Monday.

The promotion, effective immediately, positions Yaccarino, who has been spearheading an initiative to create a single ad-buying system that spans TV and digital, to unite more parts of NBCU’s ad business.

Yaccarino previously was chairman of advertising and partnerships, managing the media company’s portfolio of linear networks like NBC, digital platforms like Peacock, distribution partnerships, and client relationships.

In her new role, she adds to her purview NBCU’s local ads, company-wide marketing strategies, and a new data-strategy team that she’s charged with building. She continues to report to CEO Jeff Shell.

As part of the change: 

  • Local ads will be added to One Platform, NBCU’s all-in-one ad-buying system, which Yaccarino leads. The team that sells ads across NBCU’s local-TV stations and regional-sports networks, run by local-sales revenue chief Frank Comerford, will report into Yaccarino.
  • Yaccarino will oversee NBCU’s strategic initiatives, led by SVP Kathy Kelly-Brown. That includes NBCU’s Symphony marketing campaigns that rally the company around moments, like Peacock’s debut or the Olympic Games. Under Yaccarino’s oversight, the team will start talks with major advertisers about opening up Symphony, similar to the way it works with a “council” of Peacock sponsors to test ad formats for the streaming service. 
  • Yaccarino is building a data-strategy unit charged with bringing together research from across the organization to grow the company’s revenue. The team, which will be led by a data chief who has not yet been named, will work on creating unified anonymous identifies for NBCU audiences, using data to scale NBCU’s new shoppable ads, and using research to inform that ad experience, like reimagining what ads look like in movies on Peacock versus TV shows.

Yaccarino, who has been with NBCUniversal since 2011, built the company’s One Platform strategy, which launched ahead of the 2020 upfront-buying season in an effort to offer advertisers the infrastructure to run media plans across all of NBCU’s TV and digital properties.

In April, she also rolled out a suite of shoppable-ad tools for retail advertisers, that allow viewers to buy items from ads in NBCU content on TV or online. Customers scan a code on their TV screens with their phones to make a purchase through an NBCU-powered shopping cart.

“Linda has done a fantastic job moving the advertising business forward, not just for NBCUniversal, but the industry at large,” Shell said. “I’m excited for her to continue architecting the future of the ad-supported ecosystem and uniting all assets of this company to make us the best possible partner for our customers around the world.” 

Here is Yaccarino’s full memo to her team.


I’m thrilled that our family is getting bigger.

First, we’re welcoming Frank Comerford and his team of local sales experts to make our broader Global Advertising & Partnerships division truly a one-of-a-kind in this industry. This also means we will have the great opportunity to partner even more closely with Valari Staab, the stations, and the Regional Sports Networks under this new structure. On top of that, Kathy Kelly-Brown’s strategic initiatives team will join our team and expand on their incredible work with Symphony, plus we’ll be partnering even more closely with John Miller. Finally, we’re going to build an entirely new Data Strategy unit that will unite all of NBCUniversal behind a shared information vision.

Please join me in welcoming them all!

These updates come at a time of massive transformation in the global advertising industry. Consumer behavior and corporate convergence are bringing media and technology closer together. And now, so are we.

By organizing our business to reflect the realities of the marketplace and the future that audiences have created, we’re able to bolster our One Platform solution and, subsequently, our entire business. Now, from local to global, across cable and broadcast, digital and streaming, NBCUniversal—and only NBCUniversal—can offer audiences and partners an unbeatable combination of deep regional expertise and massive scale, data-driven math and a little bit of magic. 

While there is no doubt we are a content and technology company at our core, we need to keep accelerating our business plans to define entertainment and build the future of advertising. With the addition of these strong teams and new initiatives, we’re expanding our offerings for clients while diversifying our business and creating new company-wide opportunities. We’re making the right investments to bring that future into focus.

During Wednesday’s Office Hours, I’ll go into more details and introduce our new team members. But for now, it’s important to reiterate: when we transform our team, we transform the company—and the entire industry. 

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