Digital Giants Loom Large During Upfronts Week

As the major TV networks host their annual upfront presentations for advertisers and agencies this week, there is sure to be a recurring theme: subtle (and not so subtle) jabs at technology giants like Google and Facebook.

Or as NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino joked at her company's upfront presentation Monday morning: "A family has never gathered around a newsfeed. We're not in the 'likes' business. We're in the results business."

While the digital duopoly continue to grow advertising sales at a breakneck pace, the TV giants smell weakness, and they are poised to try and take advantage of it.

The point of contention? In the case of Facebook, concerns about data privacy. In the case of Google, brand safety on YouTube.

Facebook’s recent privacy scandals are shining a new light on the role of data in our lives, and TV companies, which prefer opt-in data collection methods, may be in a strong position to capitalize on this issue.

Likewise, advertisers have become wary of YouTube, and a number of advertisers, including HP and Cisco, have pulled their ads in recent months. Google has responded by restricting the eligibility requirements for monetization on certain channels and by enabling a human review process for its “Preferred” channel partners.

“We are feeling really great about where NBCU is. We feel confident talking about where we are, because there are a lot of companies feeling a lot worse,” said Yaccarino, at the IAB Video Summit last week.

“It is no secret that a lot of our social media friends are under quite a microscope, some of us would say under fire. It is a classic case of fool me once, shame on you, fool clients and consumers over and over again, and something needs to be done about it.”

So what should marketers expect to hear a lot of this week? The buzzwords according to industry observers, are “brand safety,” “premium content” and "cross-platform measurement."

Brand safety in TV means programming where marketers know what they are getting, and the content their adds are appearing next to.

Premium content means big-budget shows that enhance a brand, not cheap digital content meant to steal a piece of the video ad pie.

Then there's cross-platform measurement, as in new measurements designed to accurately track consumption on TVs, connected devices and mobile devices.

Will Big TV be able to slow down the advertising march of Big Tech? Only time will tell, but this week, expect them to make their case.

1 comment about "Digital Giants Loom Large During Upfronts Week".
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  1. Guy Powell from ProRelevant, May 15, 2018 at 12:08 p.m.


    Good article.  I think also the fear of GDPR inflitrating from across the pond has to concern a lot of major advertisers.  I think once that fully kicks in and Europe has fined its first non-compliant advertiser, things may change as it relates to TV versus digital.

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