Why The Big 3 Need To Worry About No. 5

The other day I broke a news story reporting that Google is now one of Madison Avenue’s “Big 5.” That’s an old school Madison Avenue reference, for sure, and used to be used by agencies to refer to their biggest suppliers -- the Big 3 TV networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), and then the Big 4 when Fox joined the club. I used that reference on purpose to show that Google is now one of Madison Avenue’s biggest suppliers, because previously, it was seen mainly as a paid-search supplier, and mostly for the the long-tail (smaller advertisers). So why am I bringing this up in TV Blog? Because based on a briefing Google’s top ad execs gave this morning with the New York ad trade press, they’re becoming more like a TV supplier than a search supplier.



Not surprisingly, much of the conversation focused on the subject of video, especially Google’s YouTube, but it also covered the Super Bowl, and ways Google is enabling brands to tap into the kind of reach that previously was afforded only to broadcast television networks -- 1.8 billion unique users, to be precise. But Google is also talking a different kind of reach -- and frequency -- game, that I think requires a new way of thinking, and maybe even measuring its audience value.

According to Lucas Watson, Google’s vice president of global brand solutions, Google reaches each one of the 1.8 billion users an average of seven times per day, and each of those reach points represents an opportunity to serve a unique ad message to them based on what they are doing at that moment. Interestingly, that may not even be consuming video content on YouTube, but accessing it through another platform that Google can serve an ad to via AdSense.

Watson gave the example of a new campaign Procter & Gamble broke for Old Spice, not on YouTube, but on rival video platform Vimeo. Or maybe on, or even Old Spice’s own video channel. By enabling marketers to serve video ads into other destinations, Watson said Google can dramatically expand a brand’s potential reach.

“Very little is destination-based,” Watson said, noting that regardless of which destination the user was on, they were experiencing Old Spice’s content and advertising.

I asked Watson whether Google was thinking of developing a new reach planning metric for this approach -- something akin to the TV syndication market’s “gross average audience ratings,” which are generated by repeat airings of the same show, but he said the business isn’t quite there -- yet.

While Google may reach its average user seven times per day, unless that user is logged into a registered Google platform, he said Google must rely on third-party audience trackers, such as comScore, and now Nielsen too.

Google’s push into video isn’t just impacting the way agencies plan and buy media, added Karen Sauder, industry director for the food, beverage ad restaurants categories at Google, but the way they -- or should I say their clients -- create ads too.

Sauder cited a recent campaign Taco Bell developed using 50 YouTube “creators” to develop different versions of campaign executions for its “Fiery DLT” that would be relevant to subscribers of their YouTube channels. One version by YouTube star FreddieW used a 3D printer to replicate a Taco Bell restaurant.

“It was done in a way that was authentic and relevant” to the audience, Sauder said, noting that FreddieW reaches 6 million users. Aside from the cumulative reach across the 50 creators, Taco Bell also got 50 unique creative executions -- something both creative and media shops might want to think about.

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