While the numbers aren’t all in, it doesn’t look like the digital market for online video advertising made serious inroads into agency spending or changed much in the way of how the networks and agencies do business. Networks and agencies were more interested in the debate over minute-by-minute commercial ratings and DVR view reporting timeframes, and rather than moving away from broadcast and into digital, digital spending came out of direct marketing and other advertising budgets instead.
In a conversation with Mike Cassidy of online ad network Undertone Networks, Christine Merrifield of brand agency MediaVest says she was “a little surprised” about the lack of action on the digital market, considering the online video hype, and suggests that most digital ad spending will instead continue to be done on the scatter market, with individual brands targetting individual shows and their audiences.
One stumbling block could be that while there were many predictions that there would be lots of big ‘integrated’ buys, ad agencies generally have a video sales team and a digital sales team working separately. Complexity is also an issue, as networks move away from promoting digital components as value-adds to tradition buys, but with more original content being produced exclusively for the web, that could still change.
Johnson and Johnson, for one, sat out the upfront entirely but is shifting large amounts of their advertising budget to digital and other new media projects, with up to $250 million, or 20 percent of its total budget, to digital, according to MediaBuyerPlanner. One project is promoting a stealth advertorial film, Innerstate, online.
Whether the total amount of digital spending has doubled over last year, as earlier estimates suggested, is still up in the air. There could be some clarification over the course of the next few days as networks report their quarterly earnings. Turner Broadcasting said that 10 percent of its sales were in digital, which is significantly bigger a share than the estimates of 6 percent of total sales going to digital across the board. Overall, upfront spending rose 3.4 percent to $9.15 billion.