TV Marketers' YouTube Quandary: Impossibly Instant Media Buys

Google needs to act even more like TV as it approaches the big upfront TV advertising market. Focus on the program.

For TV marketers, it is still a big deal to secure key TV commercial inventory in big rated prime-time TV shows. These days that list might include the likes of “Big Bang Theory,” “The Voice” and maybe “Dancing with the Stars.”

Lower ratings on traditional, linear TV -- and a shift to new media platforms -- have changed the game. TV marketers want a lot more, buying “audiences,” not particularly “programs.”

Well, lo and behold, digital media can give you a lot of the former. Want to buy a particular audience on Google and/or YouTube? No problem.

The downside? Those viewers might be watching terrorist, racist, anti-Semitic, violent, or other content, news which surfaced recently. Recent reports suggest a number of big TV advertisers -- including GlaxoSmithKline, PepsiCo, and WalMart and many others — have suspending buying on the YouTube site until issues are resolved.



Of course, no marketer wants that -- questionable video content linking to their big valued brands. Still, that’s your target “audience”, right?

For many, the news some big TV marketers commercials are running such content on YouTube or other places on Google might not be much of surprise. YouTube’s initial premise when it started out was a video platform focused user-generated content -- un-supervised, un-edited content.

To be fair, the big digital video platform has installed some better protections, as well as branching out into more professionally produced video and TV content, including repurposed premium TV content from big TV networks. Google even sells Google Preferred -- the top 2% to 5% of all Google videos traffic in terms of views and viewers.

Now on the eve of the upfront market, all this looms as YouTube looks to lure more of the $20 billion in national TV advertising dollars that is up for grabs during the upfront TV market.

In buying traditional TV networks/programs, marketing/media executives can preview episodes -- or read synopsis -- of a couple of dozen new broadcast prime-time series each year -- and much more on cable. This is something that has been part of media-buying practice for a long time.

Can the same be done in digital media with million of pieces of video content? Well, there are third-party companies ike Zefr or Ad Parlor that have people and technology who watch YouTube videos and label descriptors about the content.

But it isn’t perfect -- especially when it comes blocking objectionable content that pops up instantaneously in the big video platform. Google can block websites tagged with offensive words, but as one analyst has said, it’s hard to "see" what the videos are actually about.

Google has said its system isn’t 100% perfect. Perhaps its algorithmic formulas can get better, weeding much of the objectionable content.

After many of these issues resolve themselves -- hoping to appease marketers, let's ask a better question: What if highly value consumers, big parts of a marketer’s targeted “audiences,” are viewing questionable content? What then? Targeting/data issues?

2 comments about "TV Marketers' YouTube Quandary: Impossibly Instant Media Buys".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 29, 2017 at 9:44 a.m.

    Wayne, I wonder how many of the brand media plans that the agency time buyers will be trying to execute in the upcoming primetime TV upfront have Google or even digital, built into them? I suspect that the answer is not many. Also, if some video offered by Google to advertisers can be seen at any time of day or day or week ---is this really a "primetime" option? Just asking.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, March 29, 2017 at 10:17 p.m.

    Well, at least all the information about the people watching will be able to be sold. (sarcasm)

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