MCN hits back at YouTube’s TV play, set to launch tech platform to measure both media

MCN hits back at YouTube’s TV play, set to launch tech platform to measure both media

Comparing advertising on YouTube to advertising on TV is misguided, and the Google-owned platform’s push for brand dollars shouldn’t be seen by agencies and brands as an alternative to TV buys, reckons MCN sales director Mark Frain.

News that YouTube is in negotiations with agencies to tie-up ad dollars in an upfront fashion, similar to the way TV deals are struck, has received mixed reaction.

Sources within industry suggest that YouTube is pushing for a 10-20% share of TV budgets, which would represent a $350m-$700m land grab.

Google has stated that it is not aiming solely for TV dollars, arguing that the money it wants in return for guaranteed access to the top 5 per cent of its YouTube channels can come from any part of marketer’s budgets. Google’s industry leader for agency sales, development and display activation, Lisa Bora, has also underlined that “there is a strong agency and ad market where both TV and YouTube can thrive and co-exist.” She would not be drawn on the kind of share of budget YouTube is aiming for.

While some market participants have expressed doubt that the push is not an all-out assault on TV dollars, MCN’s Frain said that digital video and TV were very different platforms.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” he said. “Not just with YouTube [but with the broader digital video push from many publishers]. But the two comparison points [of the two media] are never really made.”

But Frain questioned what premium digital video actually meant.

“I look at the question of TV content, both on free-to-air and subscription TV and the comparison doesn’t seem to have weight. Where do you want to put your ads? Next to Game of Thrones or premium sport versus pre-roll on YouTube – or any online video?”

With vested interest across both media, Frain said MCN would now work to better prove the incremental reach that can be achieved by spending money both on TV and online video.

Industry was working on technology to measure time shifted viewing he said, but not enough attention was being paid to a TV-plus-video tool he said. To that end, MCN was “looking at building ourselves” a product that better measures the two media in tandem. That would likely be in market early next year, said Frain.

Without that kind of technology “it will be a missed opportunity” for broader growth, rather than cannibalisation, he said.

“We all want to drive growth and growth of TV combined with online video is a good catalyst for clients to spend more. All the talk is around online video growth, and it is undoubtedly up, but if the two media work better together and we can prove incremental reach it is an opportunity for both to grow, instead of robbing one to pay the other.”

Frain said that YouTube’s move had not necessarily created further downward pressure on TV prices, and suggested that MCN was in a better position than most.

“There is always rate pressure. But it goes back to quality. And we have the data to prove our audience is of high value, so we have a level of protection that others don’t.”

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