Microsoft in NBC Deal to Supply Ad System

Microsoft will provide technology to optimize sales of television advertising for NBC Universal (NBCU) under an “alliance” that the two companies announced Thursday.

Under the terms of the deal, NBCU will use Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Admira television media marketplace to sell advertising — that is, once Admira begins commercial service in the fourth quarter of 2009.

“NBCU will sell advertising inventory through Microsoft’s Admira marketplace, enabling advertisers and agencies to plan and optimize media buys on NBCU’s national networks and local broadcast station, KNBC Los Angeles,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

Admira was beta tested by the NBC Local Media group in March where it was used to buy and sell local television advertising inventory in Los Angeles.

Microsoft describes Admira as a sophisticated media buying marketplace that uses real-time audience measurement data to optimize the delivery and placement of television advertising.

The software giant acquired Admira when it bought privately-held Navic Networks in June of 2008.

“For larger advertisers, Admira will enhance NBCU’s existing agency relationships by providing new planning tools for data-driven targeting and segmenting of specific audiences across its broadcast and cable television networks,” the two companies’ statement said.

“For small to mid-size clients, Admira will enable an automated planning, buying, posting and billing process across many of NBCU’s national broadcast and select local TV properties.”

Admira works by “aggregating anonymous viewership data” from satellite and cable systems. It overlays that information with data on purchasing patterns as well as “geo-demographic data.” That is intended to help advertisers find new opportunities to identify prospective audiences as well lower buying costs.

NBC has done other deals with Microsoft. For example, Microsoft provided streaming video of the Beijing Olympics last summer. Additionally, Microsoft and NBC also share ownership of MSNBC — both cable and online properties.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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