NBC’s latest sales rep? It’s Microsoft

NBC Universal is turning to Microsoft to help it sell ads.Msft

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.