Is Digital Media Already Missing Its Chance -- At The Expense Of Traditional TV?

We are only at stage one of the recession -- and one wonders if alternative digital media has already missed its opportunity.

To hear traditional TV media sales and buying executives talk, there is still no discernible pullback from national TV advertising -- all while marketers have made drastic cutbacks of local TV and other media areas.

Helping national TV is the fact that the networks are down 10% or more in their collective viewership -- which tightens gross ratings points and stabilizes program prices. What about cable TV? Viewership has increased there. Not only that, but many senior cable ad sales executives say they are on-target with their fiscal and calendar year sales goals.

At the same time, advertising for Internet video seems to be slowing -- though not necessarily declining. Hmm... are new digital video platforms blowing it?

Some analysts say digital efforts have still to reach their potential -- given the sometimes confusing array of viewing choices and behavioral metrics that media buyers, marketers, and media sellers still need to decipher.

In troubled times marketers retreat, goes the argument. "Tried and true" is the phrase that comes up. And that still means television -- which is why the cable industry's Canoe Ventures, with its efforts around set-top box information and addressable advertising, is still a big focus -- and not the Internet.  

Don't get too cocky. Not all is well on all national TV fronts: Media buyers are saying pricing for NFL football has indeed decreased versus a year ago, as well as some other fringe areas. Still, all this is not enough to cause a rush to the sidelines.

Is Procter & Gamble really pursuing its plan to renegotiate all its media deals? TV executives will tell you that the big TV marketer already gets great, low-priced deals. How low can you go?  

All this may just be a windup to future negotiation -- especially when TV sellers begin to see what those second-quarter options look like, where marketers can cancel up to 50% of their upfront deals made a year ago. The second quarter scatter market normally is a harbinger for the following year's upfront market.

Even then, TV advertisers will be estimating (and hoping) that the recession was just a 2009 thing -- that in 2010 we'll be back on track, and  back to modest program price increases for  national TV programmers.

Digital media will probably make gains then as well. But some may look back and sense 2009 was a blown opportunity. That's because marketers have yet to affix alternative digital media with the time-honored tag of "tried and true.



1 comment about "Is Digital Media Already Missing Its Chance -- At The Expense Of Traditional TV?".
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  1. Brett Wilson from TubeMogul, Inc., January 6, 2009 at 4:48 a.m.

    As Keith pointed out above, lack of a common language, or metrics, is a factor in holding back online video advertising. Watch for us to fill this void.

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