Rocket Fuel Agency Survey Finds Buyers Shifting Dollars From TV To Online

TV Online equals convergence questionThe recent stirrings around IPO plans in the video ad-tech space have been driven in part by the expectation of a clearer line between the $75 billion TV ad market and the $4 billion spent annually by marketers on broadband video.

While it’s hard to go by intentions, especially when it comes to what media buyers think and what their clients will ultimately allow them to do, there is a certain consensus about the importance of investing marketing dollars in online video. In a sign of where that thinking is at, a survey of 149 “ad agency executives” by Demand-Side Platform/ad network Rocket Fuel found that 42% expect to shift some portion of their budgets — a lot or a little wasn’t exactly clear — from TV to online video this year.

In general, 80% of advertisers say they plan to spend more on Web video ads, suggesting that 2013 will demonstrate another year of double-digit growth for the space. “This percentage was even higher for those advertisers responsible for TV buys, of whom 86% planned to spend more in the upcoming year,” Rocket Fuel’s report stated.

There are three primary reasons digital video is becoming more attractive to TV buyers. One, the promise of “sight, sound and motion” that is often invoked as the reason TV is the greatest advertising medium is considered pretty much the same thing whether a consumer is viewing content over their PC, tablet, smartphone or connected TV screen.

Second, online video advertising has adopted the TV-like audience measurements of Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings and comScore’s Validated Campaigns Essentials, which closely resemble the “gross ratings point” standard that buyers and sellers have transacted against for decades. In that sense, online video has been making more sense to TV buyers as opposed to “cost-per-action” metrics and clickthrough rates.

Third, programmatic methods have become a bit more mainstream for most marketers. And the programmatic approach to online video buys have simply made the process of tying cross-platform TV buys to digital video much easier. As a result, agencies like WPP’s GroupM and IPG’s Universal McCann have created single video-buying hubs that look to tear down the siloed walls between “TV” and “video.”

As evidence of the value of programmatic as a force in media-buying decisions, a little more than 61% of advertisers surveyed say that they are likely to consider a programmatic video-buying solution for online video for their next campaign. Only 4% of respondents admitted to not really grasping programmatic buying, while the same percentage indicated that they would not use a programmatic solution for video. Roughly 30% remain on the fence when it comes to considering programmatic to place video buys.

One other factor may be spurring a move from TV to digital video: TV is not regarded as effective as it once was. The survey’s responses seem to say that we’ve gone beyond the basic issue of media fragmentation that resulted from the proliferation of so many niche channels for different viewers within a household. Instead, the use of the TV as a screen for gaming and watching over-the-top digital video from commercial-free entertainment sources like Netflix has diminished the role broadcast and ad-supported cable networks play in consumers’ lives.

Specifically, fewer than 1 in 5  advertisers (17%) told Rocket Fuel they felt TV advertising is just as effective as it was 10 years ago, and three-quarters said people have so many other commercial-free options when it comes to using their TV. Plus, technologies like the digital video recorder, which lets viewers skip through most ads, has become a commonplace feature for most cable subscribers.

Still, there are a few roadblocks preventing brand marketers from moving more money online from TV. The benefit gained from being able to target individual audiences online is blunted by the difficulty in attaining the necessary reach and scale necessary to justifying the spending of a large campaign. Whereas TV can easily gather millions of eyeballs at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night, creating comparable reach via Web video is still very elusive, with few substantive solutions in sight, as 79% of the respondents pointed to the issue of reach as a considerable barrier to greater digital video-ad spending.

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