In a move that is sure to have ripple effects around the business, media agency MediaVest USA said Monday it had moved substantial broadcast dollars to online video play Hulu. The deal is for multiple MediaVest clients, while none are named specifically the agency represents WalMart, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola Co.
In a statement today, the agency explained that the multi-million dollar upfront deal was made to enhance client understanding of demographic targeting online. In a dig at the current state of online measurement, the statement read that the deal looks to provide improved accountability compared to traditional online video metrics and move the industry closer to cross-platform buying and delivery. Measurement of online video is currently plagued by confusion with multiple services providing widely varying metrics and in some cases companies are simply doing deals based on their own unverified online data.
MediaVest is part of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, a group aimed at moving the business towards a single source of cross platform measurement.
The agreement is sure to shock TV sales executives across the board, since many were banking on money showing up in the scatter market that agencies had held out of the upfront market. Though at least for News Corp., NBC Universal and Disney the ad dollars stay in-house. The three are part-owners in Hulu along with Providence Equity. CBS Corp. owns a separate online video service, TV.com.
Smarter targeting, expanded metrics, and the opportunity to test new ad experiences and their effectiveness-these are all critical ingredients for unlocking the full potential of online video and key drivers of this partnership, says Amanda Richman, executive V.P./ managing director, digital, MediaVest USA.
The deal could help Hulu catch Google's YouTube in revenue, if not in traffic. In April, Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel forecast Hulu's revenue would land at between $120 million and $180 million in 2009.
According to ComScore statistics for online video viewing in August, Hulu ranks number four in videos viewed. Google ranks number one with 10 billion videos viewed and a 40% market share. Microsoft came in second with 547 million views, Viacom had 539 million while Hulu had 488 million.
Richman declined to give a precise figure for the investment but said it was in the single digit millions. She said that the Hulu deal was for “real media dollars,” that clients had reallocated from broadcast and online buys. The deal was done directly with Hulu ad sales which will kick in research data.
The idea behind the deal is to improve cross platform learning and make it easier to buy video whether it appears on TV or P.C. or mobile phone. “It’s a positive step in aligning buying methodology.” said Richman adding that the agency wouldn’t rule out further deals with other online providers.