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Spare a thought for today’s TV executives. Not too long ago they were the kings of all they surveyed, smiling sympathetically at their struggling music and film counterparts who were being destroyed by the internet, while confident that their business model would stand the test of time. Apparently those days are over.
Today, they are forced to listen as Google’s top-ranking European executive delivers a blistering attack claiming that YouTube advertising is far more effective than television, and suggesting that advertisers spend (many) more of their dollars on YouTube.
In a report entitled ‘The (Entertainment) Revolution will not be televised’, Google claims that ‘ad campaigns across eight countries show, in 80% of cases, YouTube ads were far more effective than TV ads in driving sales’, according to a report in The Guardian, which saw an early release of the report.
The report went on to suggest that advertisers should be upping their adspend by as much as six times to really serve the market who are engaging with YouTube.
But the television industry is not taking this lying down and hit back hard via TV marketing body Thinkbox, which represents channels in the UK such as Sky, ITV and Channel 4. “The true value of TV advertising is not just its return on investment [getting people to buy stuff], but that it achieves the best return on investment at the highest levels of investment,” said Thinkbox research and planning director Matt Hill. “TV builds brands better than anything else and creates the most profit.”
For a while there, it appeared that the two mediums were reaching some sort of mutual agreement, particularly around large public events such as the Superbowl where television earned the right to show the iconic ads first, and then YouTube picked up the long tail and delivered the ads again and again to audiences who enjoyed them at their leisure. But Google believes it has a better claim on the emerging youth market and is not afraid to say so.
It’s hard for TV to counter the charge that millennials are more interested in curating their own content via YouTube. Nevertheless, TV can claim with some justification that it still owns the high-brow properties and ‘quality content’ that advertisers want to be associated with. After all, it’s one thing to have 10 million views of your ad, but do you really want your precious product playing over some random home movie which has managed to go viral for the tiny shelf life which is associated with the internet? TV thinks not.
This battle is set to wage for some time now, but ultimately it may prove to be only a side skirmish to the main war. As brands like Mars and Danone noted in their comments to the Guardian,
“What this study really shows … is that online video is a better advertising investment than other forms of online advertising. Advertisers involved in Google’s research make it clear they see online video not as a replacement for TV, but as an addition and a complement.”
YouTube may be about to experience a surge in advertising revenue but not at the expense of television – it might just be about to cannibalise the rest of the web.