• Advertisers can buy spots on `Tonight Show' and The Verge
  • Partnership is first between NBC and Vox since investment

NBC and Vox have a message for advertisers: The Web can be a scary place.

In their first partnership since NBCUniversal invested $200 million in Vox Media last year, the two companies said Monday they’ll jointly sell ads across their TV and digital properties.

As part of their pitch, NBC and Vox say they can offer a large television audience and genuine online viewers. While brands have shifted some spending from TV to Google and Facebook, where ads are cheaper and more targeted, NBC and Vox are promising they’ll be seen by real people. Some advertisers worry they’re paying for online ads that are falsely activated by so-called bots, or seen for just a few seconds.

“That’s at the top of mind with many advertisers,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales at NBCUniversal. The network’s TV and digital properties “lead the industry in offering a premium safe environment.”

The companies are offering marketers an alternative to the “lower-value marketplace” of the Web “where you don’t know where your ad is appearing, and you don’t know if it’s going to be viewable,” said Jim Bankoff, Vox Media’s chief executive officer.

In an example of their joint ad sales, which they call “Concert,” an advertiser could reach food fans by buying spots on both Bravo’s “Top Chef” reality show and Vox’s food website, Eater, Yaccarino said. Or they could buy spots on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and Vox’s The Verge, a website focused on the intersection of technology and culture.

Youth-Oriented

The tie-up lets NBC pitch advertisers on younger online viewers who may not watch traditional TV. Vox’s eight websites, which also include sports-oriented SB Nation and the tech-media business site Re/code, reached 62.5 million unique U.S. visitors in February, according to ComScore Inc.

The companies said they haven’t lined up any advertisers yet. In the next few weeks, NBC and its competitors will begin selling ads for the 2016-2017 television season.

The deal is the latest sign of how NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast Corp., plans to capitalize on recent digital media investments. In February, NBC announced its first partnership with BuzzFeed since making a separate $200 million investment in that site. As part of the deal, BuzzFeed made “shareable” online posts for American Express Co., while NBC replaced ads on some shows with content paid for by the credit card company.

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