Upfront 2013: Confessions Of A Digital Guy -- It's All About TV

As always, the next coming television upfront will dictate the overall trajectory for 2013 media spending.  But for the first time, the prospect of digital video grabbing a more significant share of advertiser budgets actually goes beyond hype—for the first time, it’s a viable possibility! 

Why now?

In short, it’s because we can now act more like television. I predict that when looking back at some point in the future, the recent introduction of Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings system will be considered the single most important moment in catapulting digital video’s evolution from marginal player to mainstay. 

What does this mean for the future of television and digital video?

Digital video needs to embrace the television currency of a TRP. Not everyone saw the introduction of online ratings into the digital space as a good thing. After all, perhaps the most important attribute of digital media is its ability to deliver one-to-one addressability based on specific buying criteria that goes well beyond the age and gender limitations of traditional ratings verification.  But we need to embrace the truth that this common currency—while far from perfect—will be the catalyst for digital video penetrating television budgets in a meaningful way.  Introducing an understood, common metric between screens—no matter what it is now, or what it may become in the future—is not a step backward for our emerging medium, it is a leap forward.



Data allows us to tie video ad spending to brand sales. No matter how good online video is, it doesn’t make television bad.  Digital media sometimes gets caught up in our own publicity. The obvious, yet often willfully ignored, fact is—television is still the linchpin for brand marketers.  They know exactly how many television GRPs it takes to move detergent off the shelves. We need to similarly define video's specific value proposition by showing how we can directly equate all video ad exposure with sales success.  Forget click-throughs and completed views!  This can be done and don't let anyone tell you it can't.

Publishers need to invest in tools to optimize against Nielsen OCR. Cookie data and third-party ratings verification data don’t always agree—but in the battle for brand marketer television budgets, Nielsen ratings always win. 

If publishers don’t have the proper compatibility safeguards in place, the coming tsunami of OCR-driven campaigns could wipe out untold amounts of inventory that advertisers deem as “waste.”

Bringing addressability to linear television is hard.  But we have to keep trying. We often talk of connecting the dots between screens.  Yet, generally, we limit this discussion to digital screens – online, mobile and connected TVs.  But if we don’t connect to traditional television, we’re missing a crucial part of the equation. Creating greater efficiencies within the TV buy will only make the entire screen proposition work better. But it needs to be done in TV planning and buying terms – not digital terms.  We can make what’s great about TV even better. 

We are seeing the first progress toward greater alignment between television and digital video right now in the coming upfront, due in a large part because of Nielsen’s growing cohesion between its television and online products. We can only guess that as brands’ success mounts in executing true cross-platform campaigns, investment and interest in further developing these cross-screen planning and buying tools will grow from other companies as well. Whether this entails set-box data or user-supplied registration data, advancements in developing a more accountable link between television and online audiences will further fuel digital video’s growth

Yes, digital video is awesome.  But in the world of screens, television still holds its place at the top of the media-spending pyramid. 

2 comments about "Upfront 2013: Confessions Of A Digital Guy -- It's All About TV".
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  1. Daryl McNutt from TapClicks, April 28, 2013 at 6:39 p.m.

    This is a solid piece. I would add that Nielsen also needs to bring into play video planning tools similar to TV if it hopes to get full adoption of it's end to end products for online. OCR is a good step in the right direction but currently Nielsen as no way for advertisers to plan budgets cross screen. They admit their current tools miss a large segment of the video providers that have the largest reach and scale which includes folks like us and Videology.

  2. Gary milner from The Simpler Way, April 30, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.

    Yip brand marketers know how much TV it takes to move detergent, unfortunately it requires an increasing amount of wastage as audiences pick up phones and tablets during ads, skip DVR based ads etc in addition to the waste that has always been there.

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