James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you one of my favorite C Space Studio interviews from CES 2024. I had a lot of great conversations in Las Vegas, and I know you're going to like this one, so enjoy. 


Welcome back to the C Space Studio. I'm your host, James Kotecki, here at CES 2024 joined by Mark Marshall of NBC Universal. You sir, are the chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships, and we welcome you to the C Space Studio. Thank you. 

Mark Marshall (00:38): 

Thank you very much, James. Happy to be here. 

James Kotecki (00:40): 

I understand you recently were named to the position of Chairman of Global Advertising and Partnerships, and so what does that actually mean? What is your role? 

Mark Marshall (00:47): 

I oversee all of our global ad sales, national ad sales, local ad sales, as well as our tech and marketing for all of NBC Universal. 

James Kotecki (00:57): 

Okay. So does that include Peacock streaming? 

Mark Marshall (00:59): 

It does, it includes Peacock as well. So I'm glad you got that. That's good job, Peacock. 

James Kotecki (01:04): 

Indeed. And so we're here at the beginning of 2024, what are some of the trends that are in your head as you're thinking about the year ahead? 

Mark Marshall (01:13): 

Yeah, I think when we think about it, obviously streaming as you brought up, Peacock is obviously a big one for everyone right now. I think as we think about streaming, the thing that we're noticing is in our world is streaming is actually bringing in a new audience. It's not just cannibalizing linear. So if you think of Sunday Night Football on NBC, Premier League, NASCAR, golf, all of those grew on linear as well as grew on digital this year. So actually streaming is bringing in new audience, and as it brings in that new audience, because you're on streaming, you're able to reach them in different ways with programmatic and different elements that allow more advertisers into that. 

James Kotecki (01:53): 

This brings up a question I've often wondered, and I have so many of these conversations about streaming, and ultimately it's everything just going to be streaming. Is there any fundamental reason why linear should continue to exist after all the people who just refuse to switch to streaming are gone? Is there anything that's still good about it from a technological perspective? 

Mark Marshall (02:14): 

Well, the craziest part about it is when you think about it, the consumer does not see a difference in it. All they know is it's being served on a television screen, 95% of all of our digital impressions are served on a television screen. So what it is the consumer mindset has changed. As an industry, we haven't changed as much as we need to, so measurement was still bifurcated and that's what we've been working on and that's what we announced this week, is a way to bring together linear and digital together instead of bifurcating it. Because to your point, consumers don't see a difference at this point. And it's just how it's delivered, whether it was delivered from a TV ad server or from a digital ad server, consumer doesn't know. 

James Kotecki (03:01): 

So you're bringing those two things together with your announcement here. Ultimately, do you see a world where even advertisers here, we're just not really talking about the difference as much, it's not as big of a deal in conversations like this. 

Mark Marshall (03:13): 

I think the challenge was because we measured them separately, we bifurcated it. So you would have a linear schedule and digital schedule, and then you would duct tape them together at the end and pretended that was cross-platform. Really what we've developed is a completely new tool and system that allows you to look at linear and digital all on one plan, and you'd be able to see what percentage of it was delivered on linear, what was delivered on digital, where the overlap was. That's never existed before. So I think what you're going to start to see is advertisers who love the reach of television for industries like autos or studios where you need that quick hit, that instantaneous reach. That's really hard to do on streaming. And so you still want that huge reach, but you want the precision of digital. So this allows you to get both of them together as one. 

James Kotecki (04:04): 

There's one or two interesting events coming up in the year 2024. How are you preparing for the major news events that are going to be coming our way this year? 

Mark Marshall (04:12): 

Yeah. Well, we obviously have the election that will impact all of us. And then at NBC, the big one we have is the Olympics in Paris. So we are excited to have the games. We had a run in Asia. We're very excited to have it in Paris. I think we'll get to do some storytelling. We haven't had fans in the stands for two different games as well- 

James Kotecki (04:35): 

That's true. 

Mark Marshall (04:35): 

So you think about that, those shots of the parents watching their kid who is swimming their 30 seconds that they've trained for their whole life, and we'll get to have that back. The other thing that will be nice is the time zone difference will be a lot of the events will be during the day, and so at night we'll actually get to do some more of the storytelling that we kind of missed in Asia because there was so many live events that what the feedback we got from consumers was we missed the background stories of that. So it'll be a curated nighttime time plus with more of the storytelling. And then on the streaming, the Olympics will be the biggest streaming event that have ever happened over 17 days. It'll be an unbelievable big event. 

James Kotecki (05:21): 

And do you have to invent or invest in new technologies to actually make that happen behind the scenes? I'm the consumer, as we talked about, I just turned on my TV and I want to watch rowing and there it is. But behind the scenes because of the scope and the scale of this, have you had to work very hard behind the scenes to make that happen? 

Mark Marshall (05:37): 

Yeah, we have. I mean, it's 7,000 hours of programming. So you think about that, that's like 10 months of programming that all happens in 17 days. So the coordination starts when we close the flame in one summer games, it really starts as we build towards the next one. So we'll be excited because this will be the first summer games where every event will be streamed on Peacock. Whereas Tokyo, we did not have that at that point yet. 

James Kotecki (06:05): 

We're talking a lot about AI here at CES and in the C Space studio obviously. I wonder maybe using the Olympics as potentially an example, are there ways that we're going to see AI in front of the camera, behind the scenes gen AI? Are we going to see that show up at the Olympics 2024 in ways we haven't before? 

Mark Marshall (06:21): 

I don't know if you'll see it in the Olympics yet, because really the generative, you have to get through one game of the program, what the AI will learn from next games. 

James Kotecki (06:30): 

I see. Yeah. 

Mark Marshall (06:30): 

So you kind of have to get through one cycle of what it is. But what I think you will start to see is we're using AI in our new One Platform total audience, where what we're doing as we're building plans is we're looking at tone, emotion, and what shows are going to make the most sense for an advertiser. Before it was, I kind of think these shows might, it does well on reaching adults 18 to 49, now we actually get to layer on a whole level of AI and machine learning that will help us. And then we'll also be able to take those learnings and actually equate it back to programming as well, what's working, what's resonating, what viewers are being drawn to, what types of programming, do comedies work better for autos or does toilet paper work better in dramas? You'll start to learn more about the advertiser and the messaging- 

James Kotecki (07:18): 

Now I'm curious, I kind of want to know the answer to that question. 

Mark Marshall (07:20): 

I know. I know. Well, by this time next year I'll have a whole array for you. 

James Kotecki (07:24): 

You mentioned tone and emotion. Nowhere are tone and emotion running higher than in presidential elections, and obviously 2024 is going to be a major one. And so as an organization, how are you thinking about or preparing for this election differently? Really from your perspective in terms of the way that brands and advertisers are going to be wanting to or not wanting to play a role in... I suppose there's two ways to think about it. So there's the coverage aspect of it from your organization, and then there's the political campaigns that want to advertise. There's so much to unpack here. This could be... It's an entirely separate- 

Mark Marshall (07:56): 

We could go hours on this one. 

James Kotecki (07:57): 

This could be an entirely separate episode, but I'm just curious if you have some quick thoughts on that. 

Mark Marshall (08:00): 

Well, it's interesting just because of the breadth of our news programming where on CNBC, the coverage is really around the financial and jobs market, MSNBC is more of the news side of it, Nightly News has more of the stories in the background around it. So you're going to have all these different ones and then everyone wakes up with the Today Show to hear what's going on with that. So it's actually the most watched news organization anywhere, NBC is, when you look at it. And we also broadcast in English and in Spanish. So we take it very seriously of that opportunity to make sure we're telling the right stories to the American public. 


And from an advertiser standpoint, what we've tried to do is make sure that we've gone to the marketplace as we would take any property to the marketplace to say, this is the type of organization that we're going to deliver. Someone may want to go into more of a hard news with an MS, whereas Nightly News has a different feel on that. Today's show has a different feel. So based on their level of in-depth that they want to get in the election, they can kind of pick and choose the news organization. That makes more sense. 

James Kotecki (09:04): 

Yeah, makes sense. And are there an emerging set of rules, either within the organization or maybe with your fellow news organizations, around the kinds of political advertising you would accept, vis-a-vis gen AI? Is there any kind of ethical or moral consensus there? Because I know a lot of people are worried about that from the perspective of what kind of ads are we going to see in this election, this brave new world of Ai. 

Mark Marshall (09:26): 

I mean, I think the advantage that we offer at NBC, not just in election, is there's nothing that goes on our air, that includes content or commercial, that does not go through a standards board. So I think what you are referring to a lot of times on the social side of things that happen is even if your content might be fine, what's adjacent to it might not be where you want your brand associated to. So I think what we're going to start to hear over the next year is adjacency will start to become way more important. 

James Kotecki (09:57): 

So love talking to you, and as we wrap up here, we'd love you to fill in the blank. 2024 will be the year of blank. 

Mark Marshall (10:05): 

Year of blank? All right. I'm going to say in a hopeful sense, I think '24, because we have changes coming in linear measurement with Nielsen, we have changes coming with cookies going away, I think we've talked about change for a long time. I think '24 is a year change, actually does happen. 

James Kotecki (10:27): 

Well, thanks so much and hopefully you'll come back and tell us all about it next year at CES 2025. Mark Marshall, NBC Universal, thank you so much. 

Mark Marshall (10:34): 

Thank you very much. Appreciate it. 

James Kotecki (10:35): 

And I hope to be in that audience in Paris waving the American flag with a crazy American hat or wig on. 

Mark Marshall (10:40): 

You got to do face painting as well. If you want to get on camera, you got to go full face paint. 

James Kotecki (10:43): 

I've always wanted to be that guy. This could be my year. I really appreciate that. 

Mark Marshall (10:46): 

I appreciate it. 

James Kotecki (10:47): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation from CES 2024. That's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Hit that YouTube subscribe button, leave a comment, follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart Media, or wherever you're getting this show. And get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S dot T-E-C-H. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.