Sluggish TV Upfront Doesn’t Benefit Online


The TV upfront negotiations between agencies and networks appears to be moving forward after a period of paralysis, but you can dismiss any thought of online video benefiting from the recent impasse or from the sudden spurt of deal-making. For one thing, sources say, the current system, whether spending is up or down, still tends to view online video as an after-thought or an experiment. And when budgets are tight, experiments are the last thing to be funded.

In particular, cross-platform deals are expected to remain more sidelined than in previous years. Total dollars are down, says Carrie Drinkwater, director of national broadcast for Havas media buyer MPG, and TV/online ad tie-ups aren’t attractive enough to get advertisers to up their spending. “While the slowness of this year’s upfront process gives advertisers and networks gives the parties involved more time to create something above and beyond the traditional banner ad, it’s simply not viewed as crucial,” Drinkwater told paidContent.

“Even though there is not going to be as big a push in terms of spending, I think there will be more creativity. I would expect more branded integration deals on TV and that will certainly be extended to online, as well as the use of sweepstakes and similar promotions. But these deals will not be raising the needle in an perceptive way.”

Bottleneck: Web video is still one of the stronger advertising categories when it comes to spending growth. Some may have thought that the indifference to striking a TV deal could lead to more consideration for online video but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the bottleneck in TV deals the past few weeks only highlighted the real impediments the space has in terms of doing bigger deals. Even though average CPMs for online videos tend to be lower than what’s offered in primetime, agencies and advertisers are still reluctant to take a chance and invest more of their budgets in digital, said Jordan Levin, the former WB CEO who went on to co-found the multi-platform video production and talent management firm Generate. While Generate’s broadband series The Lake debuts on next month with the backing of what Levin calls a “major sponsor” he says he has agreed not to identify, such deals are not being tied to the upfront season. Levin: “More money should be moving to digital, given that audiences are shifting. But there


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