TV advertising is not going away, and much of the future success of Web and digital advertising will be determined in large part by its ability to establish comparability to TV advertising. That was one of the top takeaways from my spending the first part of this week at the well-attended Festival of Media, Global 2012 in Montreux, Switzerland.
Of course, I can’t write about the festival without mentioning some of the folks who were there. Not only were the world’s top media execs in attendance, like MPG’s Maria Louisa Francoli, Vivaki’s Jack Klues and OMD’s Mainardo de Nardis, but so were many of the world’s top client-side marketing and media officers, led by Pepsico’s Salman Amin, Nestle’s Pete Blackshaw, MasterCard’s Ben Jankowski and Colgate-Palmolive’s Nigel Burton.
TV’s durability and continued power as the dominant consumer advertising medium was part of the discussion in nearly every session. Unlike similar conferences four or five years ago, folks weren’t talking about the Web’s inevitable march to trample TV. Television’s importance and its future were taken by all as self-evident.
However, in a shift from many of the standard “future of media” discussions which I have heard at conferences in years past, there were presentations and a lot of follow-up discussion about how Web advertising and TV advertising were likely to work together on a practical basis.
The critical importance of TV advertising today and in the future was a key theme of Amin’s talk. comScore’s chairman and co-founder Gian Fulgoni talked about the company’s new validated gross rating point measurements for Web advertising, which extends key TV-centric audience measurements to the Web. The “Hot Company of the Year” award was won by Tremor Media’s VideoHub after Chief Media Officer Jason Krebs showed the delegates the product’s capacity to bring TV-like brand-driving metrics to Web video campaigns.
Of course, as I read the online trades on my return, I realized that the theme of bringing TV comparability to Web advertising wasn’t just a theme sparking conversation on the shores of Montreux's Lake Leman. Many of the top Web companies are staging their version of TV’s Upfront, the Newfront, conveniently (or comparably) scheduled at the beginning of the television industry’s big futures market event. Nielsen’s new Online Campaign Rating’s product is in stories across the industry, as more and more marketers use it to make their web campaigns comparable to TV. And, just yesterday, Google announced its Active GRP, a gross rating point metric for Web advertising it serves, modeled on the TV version. Sounds like the Web behemoth must now be thinking, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ’em.
While the early days of selling Web video tried to make it sound like the interactivity of online ads would eventually force media buyers to shift budget from television to the Web, the continued fragmentation of audiences only emphasized that television still has the reach major marketers require. And the TV industry has started to embrace rather than fear audiences on alternative platforms. The best strategy for selling Web video will be to continue to sell it uniqueness while providing buyers with metrics that make it easy for them to understand how the Web can work to complement their TV ads.
What do you think?