Digital Video, Trad TV Play The Scarcity Game

Detractors and protectors of this year’s upfront market are lining up -- with digital media in the crosshairs. Could TV see another year of benefit?

Facebook’s ever-changing and apologetic adjustments to its video metrics in selling its video inventory -- including the average time users spend watching videos -- and  Google’s recent apologies in putting traditional marketers messaging next to questionable content -- are two of the biggest factors.

Concerns overall about digital media -- including fraud and viewability -- were the highlight going into last year’s upfront. That pattern is repeating this year.

For traditional media buyers looking to find new audiences in a TV world still on the decline by existing measures, this isn’t good news.

For around two years or so, Google has been the fancy of traditional TV media buyers and their high-profile clients when it comes to its Google Preferred offering. It culls top YouTube video from the channels growing array of stars, like Michelle Phan. Google brands will get access to top 5% of its best content that targeted 18-34 years old.



Last year’s panel of media agency executives at MediaPost Outfront were universally in agreement they would buy more from Google if available.

For many, Google seems to be playing in the scarcity TV game, limiting its inventory so it can drive up pricing. All this is opposite, in theory, to overall digital media content — that there is an unlimited supply advertising inventory.

Recently, business press reports went to great lengths to say YouTube TV, Google’s forthcoming digitally-served live, linear package of TV networks, could come with access traditional TV commercials on CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC . It would be part of the two minutes per hour networks have traditionally given to local TV stations, for example.

Turns out that's not rue -- which makes sense. That’s the last area TV networks would ever concede in a deal, to cut in a third party in selling national TV advertising time.

So all YouTube TV deals, according to reports, are fee-based, kind of like they are for traditional pay TV providers, like cable, satellite, and telco companies.

All of which means TV networks can continue their scarcity game in the upfront -- which for many could mean slight gains in overall volume and mid-to-high single-digit percentage gains on the cost per thousand viewers.

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