Google invades upfront marketplace

Deutsch, Saatchi among agencies using Google TV Ads

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google TV Ads has begun booking upfront deals with major agencies and advertisers for the first time.

Marketers are committing upwards of seven figures to buy ads through the TV spot buying system in the year ahead, with agencies like Deutsch and Saatchi & Saatchi and advertisers like Coldwell Banker coming to the table, said Mike Steib, director of Google TV Ads.

The company planned to host an event at its offices in New York on Thursday with more than 100 chief marketing officers of Fortune 500 companies and their agencies, who are in town for the network upfronts.

Many of the commitments run for a year starting in September. At first blush, that sort of long-term buy appears contradictory to the premise of Google TV Ads, which allows for automated, same-day buying. Steib explained that marketers can still buy or tweak their campaigns daily; they're simply agreeing to use Google TV Ads throughout the year.

“What our customers told us if the planner can put us into the upfront plan, then the buyers are free to utilize the platform in the way they works best for them,” he said.

They can also buy ads on YouTube now using Google TV Ads.

Advertising agency Deutsch is spending more than seven figures with Google TV Ads for the year ahead, marking a significant jump over its previous spend, said Peter Gardiner, chief marketing officer with Deutsch.

However, the system is not a replacement for the traditional upfront, he added. It works best for straight spot buys, but integrated deals will still be done via traditional means, he said.

There are fundamental differences though between traditional TV buying and Google TV Ads. With Google TV ads, marketers only commit to use the technology to buy spots; they don't agree to buy particular networks or shows. They also set the prices they want to pay. In addition, advertisers can back out at any time, an attractive proposition during a recession.

Earlier this year, Google TV Ads built new tools into the system to let advertisers pick spots
based on demographics, such as household income, number of kids at home and consumer habits. That's accomplished using information from data provider Equifax, paired with anonymous set-top boxes data from Google TV Ads' customer Echostar.

In addition to buying across Echostar's 14 million homes, marketers can buy national spots on Sci-Fi, MSNBC, Hallmark Channel and other networks using the system.