Commentary

Who Owns The Video Buy: Online or TV Buyers?

As online video advertising heats up, the question becomes, who actually owns the budget and the buy? Typically, media planners and buyers specialize in their own medium and, when they combine this with others, create a total plan that offers the client a complete and well-rounded campaign. However, with the advent and growth of online video advertising, the lines are getting fuzzy. Is it an online buy or is it a TV buy? The outlet is different but the assets are the same.

Let's look at this from both perspectives. Some would say that the online media buyers own the buy. This is their area of expertise; they have the contacts, know the landscape, and know how to place the buy and build a successful online campaign. To online media buyers, video advertising is a new ad unit which they can use as part of a larger, more integrated buy or as a stand-alone effort.

However, there is one problem. Some online media buyers do not have access to the video assets. In many cases, clients use different agencies for their online and broadcast advertising. This can make it difficult for an online media buyer to access the video assets, since they may be controlled or owned by another agency.

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So, if the TV buyers own the video assets, then wouldn't it be logical that they buy the placements? Online video is a great extension of TV buys, reinforcing the messages and images that consumers are exposed to during their viewing time. In addition to reinforcing the brand, online video advertising offers a direct response component, giving interested consumers a way to act immediately through purchase, sign-up or information request. Because of this, online media buyers are provided with something that TV cannot offer: a real-time measurement of how well an ad creative is performing. As of today, the majority of video clips running online are repurposed television commercials, making the case for TV buyers to own the process even more compelling.

However, there is a small hurdle to overcome. Although TV buyers have vast amounts of expertise when it comes to buying TV placements, they may not be experienced in buying online placements. Many of the players in the online market are not the same as those in TV, and the logistics are also quite different, including such details as how it's priced and the metrics used. Today, TV buyers most likely do not have the relationships and knowledge of the marketplace needed to make effective buys. There are many subtleties and nuances to executing an effective online media buy that take time and practice to learn.

So what is the answer? The growth of online video advertising has taken the market by surprise, and everyone is trying to catch up. Online buyers and planners have the experience, while TV buyers and planners own the assets. Each group wants to take advantage of this great new opportunity for their clients, without surrendering any of their influence or assets to the other. As we move forward, convergence and collaboration will be critical to the success of advertisers, who will expect and demand that their needs be met, regardless of who the buyer of the media actually is.

What do you think? I would welcome comments and thoughts from agency buyers and planners on how you are dealing with the complexity of buying online video advertising.

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