NBC Universal to Use Microsoft’s Navic Platform to Sell TV Ads

A Microsoft source recently told me the company has begun trumpeting its TV ad management capabilities to networks and cable companies in earnest. This source said a deal with a major broadcast network was imminent.

It now appears that deal has dropped. In an agreement reported this morning by the Journal, Microsoft will provide automated TV ad selling tools to NBC Universal. NBC will use the system to broker ads on its broadcast and cable networks.

Microsoft acquired those capabilities a year ago this week with the acquisition of Navic Networks. Navic’s platform offers services for both buyers and sellers. Advertiser-facing features include addressable ads, automated media buying, and Web-like campaign reporting tools. The company can also help TV media buyers customize their branded TV applications and other on-demand interfaces; these can be accessed through telescoping within interactive TV ads.

The fact that Microsoft’s first big deal for Navic is with NBC Universal comes as no surprise. The two companies have long had a very cozy relationship, especially on advertising matters. Internally, their MSNBC.com joint venture is held up as the gold standard for digital ad effectiveness — within the Microsoft stable, anyway.

NBC Universal’s president of sales and marketing, Mike Pilot, told WSJ the broadcaster wants to streamline the ad sales process in part to free up time to create more custom ad packages.

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