Move Over, TV: Advertisers Shift Dollars to Online Video

By Tara Seals May 13, 2014

When it comes to gauging the success of online video, one needs to look no further than advertiser spending: in this, as in many things, the term “follow the money” bears out. As the digital media world gears up for their “NewFronts” presentations, it looks like advertisers are pulling money from traditional TV budgets in order to fund online and multiscreen video efforts.

Video streamers are ramping up content efforts and attracting more eyeballs, and it’s paying off in terms of snagging brands’ share-of-wallet. The Wall Street Journal reported that several major advertisers and media buying firms, including MasterCard, Starcom MediaVest and Verizon Wireless are re-jiggering budgets this year to allocate more dollars to online video.

That allocation is "definitely coming out of TV," Ben Jankowski, head of global media for MasterCard, told the WSJ. The payment company spent about $81.8 million on TV ads in 2013, according to Kantar Media, and is planning to put more of that spend towards online video this year.

That trend is echoed by Starcom MediaVest, which buys about $40 billion in advertising annually for big clients like Proctor and Gamble. In the last 12 months, it has moved $500 million of that budget away from TV—most of it into online distribution.

"For us, it's really about shifting to where audiences are,” Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest, told the WSJ. "More and more people are spending time with other channels beyond the broadcast and cable networks," she added.

The metrics support this: according to comScore, 187.8 million Americans watched 46.6 billion online content videos in March, while the number of video ad views totaled 28.7 billion. Nielsen breaks that down to consumers spending nearly 159 hours watching video each month, including nearly 147 hours on TV. And advertising dollars follow suit: Nielsen research found that roughly $78 billion was spent on TV advertising in 2013, and eMarketer estimates that online video will attract $5.72 billion in 2014.

However, consumers are increasingly viewing video across screens. And, as online video advertising matures and mobile video usage proliferates, marketer demand for online video advertising is sure to continue rising.

According to eMarketer, digital media accounted for about 25 percent of total ad dollars last year. Television pulled in $66.35 billion last year, according to eMarketer, accounting for 38.8 percent of total U.S. ad spending. eMarketer predicts television will remain bigger than digital until 2018, but that there will be an inflection point within five years that will see ad spending slip to 36.1 percent and digital (including online video and mobile ads) will reach 36.4 percent.

DigitasLBi, AOL, Yahoo, Hulu, Microsoft and Google anticipated this shift as far back as 2012, when they banded together to create the NewFronts event. It is a rough analogue to traditional media Upfronts, during which content companies show off programming slates for the upcoming season for advertisers. 

While the NewFronts were created to showcase forward-thinking digital content, the official 2014 lineup is rife with traditional media companies joining the fray: Time Inc., the New York Times, Conde Nast, Scripps Networks, National Geographic, Time Warner Cable and The Wall Street Journal are all hopping on the digital bandwagon. In 2012, the first NewFronts saw just two “old media” firms participate: Disney Interactive and NBCUniversal.

It’s clear that traditional players are seeing the writing on the wall, as sea-change level demographic shifts take hold in the market. Nielsen said that younger people are increasingly migrating online to complement their TV viewing—and it’s cannibalizing traditional brand exposure.

"Younger consumers are consuming less TV as a portion of their total media consumption," said Laura Henderson, associate director of communications planning and media at Oreo-maker Mondelez, speaking to the WSJ. Mondelez plans to move 10 percent of its global TV ad spending into online video by the end of 2014.

It may not just be an either-or proposition, however. Integrated campaigns will be an approach going forward as well as cross-platform measurement gets better. In a joint survey from Nielsen and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), advertisers confirmed not only that integrated multiscreen campaigns are going to become vastly more important in the next three years, but that they intend to dedicate more of their investments to these kinds of campaigns. Most importantly, however, the survey results showed that in order to achieve maximum effectiveness, advertisers need to measure audience delivery, brand lift and sales impact with common metrics across screens.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

TechZone360 Contributor

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