What Internet? Suddenly, A Very Hot TV Ad Market

Heading into the new TV season, networks executives forgot to tell TV business reporters  about one neglected new show: The Twilight Zone of TV Ad Sales.

We have indeed entered another dimension. Reports from NFL TV networks, like NBC with "Sunday Night Football," have stuck some advertisers with mind-alternating increases in program pricing -- 25% or more. Other reports say the market is so strong some cable networks are getting 100% cost per thousand viewer increases. 

The reason is obvious: Traditional TV ad sales executives are in the zone, while marketing and media executives are zoned-out.

Wasn't this supposed to be the age where the influx of new digital media would create more efficient -- make that cheaper -- options? Aren't there are a few new media platforms that should be siphoning TV ad money -- say, the Internet?

We heard little from the networks this TV upfront season about how much money was headed to their digital platforms. Could it be a collective $250 million or $500 million? Maybe. NBC's own digital goals are to hit some $1 billion in advertising sales in a couple of years. (Apple iTunes won't be cheering on NBC by then).



We all know that Internet ad sales activity doesn't revolve around any traditional TV upfront sales period. But this sounds like a joke. Who is paying these increases?

Macro-economic top-line data says the media formula is actually going somewhere else: Annual Internet advertising sales have now overtaken radio-advertising sales --$21.7 billion to $20.4 billion. And there's the really big fish to hook. Veronis Suhler Stevenson says Internet advertising revenues will overtake TV's in four years.

But these recent big TV CPM increases are a nagging reminder of the knee-jerk media reaction that some marketers still make. It was just a year or so ago when TV marketers were swaggering that they could buy any network show for the same price or lower than during the upfront.

Now what?

Throw out all the research, the overpowering words of media pundits, the obvious trend of lower TV ratings, and the increasing interest in Facebook or YouTube.

Give up, pay the money, and proselytize Big Bully TV.  Don't adjust your TV sets. Resistance is furiously futile.

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