MAGNA Global had historically refrained from porting linear TV dollars to digital video partly because of measurement and currency gaps. TV was historically bought and sold around ratings and programs; digital was sold on a cost-per-mille basis.
Consequently, television planners had difficulty forecasting pricing for digital video – programming that was like TV, but wasn’t actually TV.
But the more YouTube added ROI-based measurements, such as the ability to weigh the impact of digital ad exposures on offline sales and brand lift, the more it could court big agency and brand buyers. Cohen also noted YouTube’s willingness to make its premium inventory pricing “much more in line with some of our other television options.”
“In year one of the partnership, we’re clearly identifying what kind of inventory we want access to and what kinds of formats we want to run,” Cohen said. “We realize this is a marathon, not a sprint, so as time goes on we recognize that there will need to be new opportunities we include.”
So what does an agency get out of a Google Preferred deal? First of all, status. Part of the perk for MAGNA is it gets a “first look” at many new products coming down the pike.
“We’re fully confident we’ll be helping pioneer many of the new things YouTube is bringing to the table,” Cohen added.
MAGNA clients also get access to select Google Preferred programs. Cohen described two in which MAGNA can run 15- or 30-second ads – both skippable and nonskippable – against Google Preferred “Lineups,” which are more evergreen, or Google Preferred “Breakouts,” which are more “zeitgeist” and in-the-moment, said Cohen.
Although Cohen declined to comment on results for individual clients or campaigns, he said MAGNA has seen enough data points around brand lift, sales lift or a proxy metric to make a deeper investment worthwhile.
Cohen said he’s encouraged by several large platform companies that have laid the groundwork to deliver the flexibility and fluidity of digital in linear TV planning, and Google is certainly one of them.
“There are lots of ways to access YouTube inventory that’s not part of Google Preferred, but this partnership specifically looks at the crème de la crème of inventory that we can be confident with as a television replacement,” he said. “It is our hope in the next three years that there are material changes in the market where we can be much more nimble.”
Google declined to comment.