You’d better get ready: TV media-buying processes, protocols and parameters are coming to the Web. Lately, the trades have been full of stories about the long-awaited convergence between ads on the Web and ads on television.
For example, like TV, we’ve seen both Nielsen and comScore launch GRP (gross rating point)-defined measurements and reports for online ad campaigns. We’ve seen the bridging of online and offline media behaviors with the recent launch of Nielsen Online Audience Segments, which enable Web video ad companies like Microsoft, Adap.TV, Collective, Undertone and Videology to target online audiences according to their “look-alike” TV viewing behaviors. And, just like TV, we’ve seen more and more agencies limit their payments to Web video companies only to the verified delivery of “in-demo” audiences they are able to deliver in their campaigns.
Multiplatform advertising is finally arriving -- albeit in fits and starts, linked across platforms more like a paper cup and string telephone than the locked-down digital linkage we’ll certainly have within a few years. However, as we bring together campaigns running on different media, we find that technology is not the only thing we need to integrate. We need to knit together some very different and, sometimes contradictory, business practices as well.
The online world is all about directly measured ad impressions. TV is about panel projections and buying shows and ratings -- not really impressions the way online folks use them. The online world has embraced and exploited audience-based campaigns to an extraordinary level. The TV world is still having problems getting past fundamental, almost prehistoric sex/age demographic targeting. The online world values campaign and impressions according to return-on-investment. The TV world focuses much more on scarcity.
The differences aren't just limited to key buying metrics and approaches. Both online and TV operate under rules that, in many cases, don’t translate well from one platform to the other. Take the overnight daypart in TV. In the days of test patterns, four analog channels and rabbit ears -- when most of TV advertising’s rules were written -- any television programming airing after midnight was typically of very poor quality and frequently served only to help old folks deal with insomnia. Today, in a multi-hundred channel TV world, overnight viewers are more likely to be folks who work “swing shifts” or students watching a History Channel documentary and browsing online news sites at the same time.
As TV-centric brand advertisers spend their money online, will they impose the same “no overnight” rules that they impose on their TV ads, under the assumption that anyone online after midnight is either watching porn or playing casuals games? Should they even be imposing the same no overnight rules on TV anymore,either? After all, increasingly, folks are using DRVs to record late-night shows to watch at a more convenient time. Many of the premium channels use the midnight to 6 a.m. hours to post reruns of this week's popular series – assuming, I suspect, such shows will be recorded.
It’s hard to change well-established assumptions. Look at how slowly traditional media adapted to the Internet and mobile age. In our 24/7, always-on world of multiple platforms, it will be interesting to see if brands will see the overnight hours as the traditional dead zone, or as an emerging opportunity.
What do you think will happen?