Will Google Preferred Step Up Its Upfront Game?

Wonder who will step up to the “premium video” category in this upfront? Think of big nontraditional TV digital video concerns.

Until recently, traditional TV networks’ platforms were the ones being labeled “premium video”: Hulu, network-oriented websites/apps (broadcast and cable) and platforms where networks' full episodes run.

But in 2015, Google Preferred, the high-end content of Google’s YouTube, seemingly joined the category. Its inventory was “sold out.” For traditional TV media buyers this perhaps signaled what has moved them in the past -- scarcity, a word normally associated broadcast TV and higher-viewing level cable TV programs.

Google Preferred finally gave TV buyers what were familiar with: guaranteed Nielsen OCR ratings on demographics, and high-profile talent. One senior media buying executive reckons Google Preferred equates to a “mid-size cable network.”  Not bad.



A year ago, after the traditional TV upfront market was completed, the company said during an earnings phone call that advertising demand for Google Preferred was up three times the level of the previous year.

Leaping forward to this year, it could be a different, even different story. The traditional TV marketplace is projected to see higher traditional TV cost per thousand prices on the order of 7% to 9% hikes. In that regard, one might expect Google Preferred, perhaps Facebook, to see some better gains.

Additionally, a year ago YouTube executives were crowing that they were selling advertising during the upfront at around the same time as other networks.

But this is just a piece of the digital marketplace. For example, when looking at YouTube overall, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst of Pivotal Research Group, has said the relative appeal of YouTube versus cable ads “is pretty low.”

Look for others like Google Preferred to separate themselves this year from the other part of the digital video industry -- the part that continues to be troubled with issues around ad-blocking, transparency, fraud, bots, and viewability.

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