The network will make some of its national and cable ad inventory available to the software giant this fall. Microsoft will use its Admira system, which uses demographic information to match ad buyers with their target market segments.
The deal is set to kick off in the fourth quarter of 2009.
If something sounds familiar about this, that might be because Google has a similar program in effect. Last year, the company unveiled a program that tied its successful AdWords interface to a television audience. Agencies enter the audience they’re hoping to reach and are given a list of time slots and programs that best reach their target demographic. Then, users can add or block relevant programs.
Google’s program is still nascent, but has made some in-roads. It has distribution deals with several distributors, including NBC Universal's cable channels, EchoStar and Hallmark Channel.
NBC says it plans to utilize Microsoft’s system in two ways. For larger advertisers, it will offer new planning tools for data-driven targeting and segmenting of specific audiences. For smaller clients, it will offer an automated planning, buying, posting and billing process across both national broadcast and select local holdings.
The deal has advantages for both sides. Microsoft gets a stake in the lucrative television ad market, while NBC will be able to automate part of the sales process, freeing up its sales force to focus on more customized forms of advertising.