Hey Digital Video, Take A Back Seat! Big-Boy Network Upfront Deals Need To Get Done

Gee, what a shock to one’s traditional upfront sensibility.

After the digital-heavy “newfronts” and other pre-season “upfront” meetings, where are we now in talking about digital video media stealing money from traditional TV upfront deals?

The digital video platforms are waiting for the traditional/linear networks to finish their upfront deal-making.

Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the complexity of reach, measurement, comparisons of one site with another, and -- let’s not forget -- the ease of traditional TV buying.

Marketing executives seem to need to spend more time, down the road, in making “upfront” digital video deals.

Sure, digital video usage is up from previous years. But it isn’t yet making any significant dent in overall traditional TV usage.

I can’t blame digital video sellers -- even those  owned by traditional TV content providers and networks -- for trying. Considering the state of the marketplace, digital video is maybe akin to where cable was in 1986. Not in terms of total revenues, but about its urgent value in marketers’ minds.



TV will still get the lion’s share of upfront deals. As Ed Papazian of Media Dynamics told MediaPost, for many marketers, TV still has the “glitz” -- as well as the ability to sell its messages to trade and distribution partners.

If that isn’t enough, here is one example of digital hype perhaps gone wrong: Last year, digital video advertising network Tremor Video reported disappointing third quarter earnings. Its stock had been trading in the $10 to $11 range. But Tremor sank sharply in early November to just under $4 a share -- where it has remained since.

What happened? Tremor Video says it didn’t account for the deals -- or at least those lingering deals-to-be-completed -- that marketers were making with traditional TV networks in last year’s upfront market.  Marketers also made digital video deals early with the likes of CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC in conjunction with their linear TV upfront buys.

To be fair, some digital upfront deals have been made before the start of the traditional TV upfront season.  In February, Google made a $100 million deal with IPG Mediabrands’ Magna Global – a buy that includes its digital video platform YouTube. In November 2013, Google made similar “upfront” deals with Publicis Group’s agencies Mediavest, DigitasLBi and Razorfish.

We don’t know all the details. But overall it seemed that marketers last year were in no particular rush to buy huge inventory supplies of digital video inventory. There wasn’t any urgency to secure those seemingly valued advertising positions. It’s much the same way that marketers viewed lots of cable networks’ inventory in 1986.

1 comment about "Hey Digital Video, Take A Back Seat! Big-Boy Network Upfront Deals Need To Get Done ".
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  1. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, June 6, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.

    Sounds like the world has re-awakened to "first things first."
    That's good!

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