New NBC Local Media Sites Promise Ad Quality over Quantity

NBC Local Media is taking a “less is more” approach to ad offerings available on its new local city sites. First to launch was NBCChicago.com, which replaces NBC’s local TV station site in that market. That site and others like it will offer fewer ad placements per page and more customized opportunities in the hopes of scoring national brand name advertisers as well as local businesses.

“We’re going with much cleaner, more impactful opportunities around [less] inventory,” said Brian Buchwald, SVP of NBC Local Integrated Media.

Several more sites dedicated to San Diego, Dallas, New York, and others will roll out throughout October, as part of NBC’s evolving approach to serving digital media audiences.

Multiple ad placements appear on the near-defunct TV station sites in the nine markets set for makeovers. The new sites, however, will feature just one ad unit along the right side of homepages and main section pages, said Buchwald. “We’re focusing on rich media for that homepage unit,” he added.

In addition to in-stream video advertising and display units, NBC is providing sponsors with microsites for a more customized ad experience. One created for the Northern Illinois Energy Project, an initiative promoting the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs, features video and links to the project’s Web site and a retailer selling the environmentally-friendly bulbs. Another mini-site for local advertiser Clifford Law Offices shows a handful of videos that can be shared or e-mailed, including one about “Legal Fees and the Consumer,” featuring a partner with the law firm.

The microsites “help the advertiser even more so than a simple banner buy,” suggested Buchwald, adding that advertisers and agencies “are looking for share of voice, looking for impact.”

Most of the ad offerings will be sold on a CPM-basis or as sponsorships, though paid search ads are available on a performance-basis.

In addition to tailoring the new sites to better attract national advertisers, NBC aims to draw in a different sort of audience from what might typically be associated with its TV station sites. The company refers to them as “social capitalists,” educated and affluent users who “like to stay ahead of the curve and influence others in their peer groups.”

The approach “really resonated with the advertiser community,” said Buchwald. “We spent a lot of time in-market before we actually built the sites, talking to agencies. We’re really trying to match the needs of the agencies and the advertisers.”

There’s also an edgy quality to the site’s content that one wouldn’t associate with a local TV station site. Yesterday on NBCChicago.com’s homepage, a story link read, “The state of the nation these days is enough to make us want to throw up our hands and scream, ‘This Country’s F$cked!’ ” There’s also more pedestrian fare, such as traffic and weather reports, a story about a study on Chicago drivers, and a video clip shot during the opening of a new Louis Vuitton store in town.

“There are shifting expectations from the online audience in terms of what they’re looking for…from a digital property,” Buchwald said. “The new sites are just the next step in the evolution.”

Over the past six months, NBC has built up its national digital ad sales team to about 14 people selling brand advertising across markets to national advertisers. Local sales forces will continue offering integrated broadcast and digital packages to advertisers in their respective markets.

NBC chose to unveil its Chicago site first, in part because “It’s a large market so there’s some bang for the buck,” explained Buchwald, noting, “People feel very locally aware in Chicago.” This past weekend’s marathon in the city also made for a good way to promote the launch.

All the markets getting new sites — Dallas, Hartford, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. — are considered important local markets for NBC, he added. “We are counting on significant growth over the course of the next year,” Buchwald added.

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