NBC Universal plans to use
technology to sell commercial time on its broadcast and cable-TV networks in a process that is similar to the sale of online advertising.
The change is expected to be announced Thursday, the
Wall Street Journal
Marketers typically buy ad time based on the number of viewers tuning in to a particular show. In recent years, they have sought to better target their purchases with more data on viewers' characteristics, such as age, income and sex, the
notes. But TV ad time is still sold mostly through negotiations conducted over the phone or by email.
reports the technology NBC is deploying will add a layer of demographic information as well as automated ad buying. It analyzes anonymous set-top box data from satellite and cable systems, adds in data obtained from other companies, including consumers' purchasing habits and locations, and updates daily.
Companies such as
also have sought to automate the process of buying TV ad time. An online TV ad buying system from eBay, based on an auction model, failed to gain traction with marketers and TV networks and was ultimately abandoned, according to the