It’s starting to look like Facebook and YouTube blew a golden opportunity to grab TV ad money this year

  • Baseball swing miss

    TV ratings continue to slide

  • Yet advertisers keep pumping money into TV
  • It’s becoming apparent that YouTube and Facebook’s recent public mishaps have cost them a chance at TV ad budgets

There’s never a good time to have a big, public screwup. But in the advertising market, the timing of Facebook and YouTube’s recent mishaps (centered around shoddy measurement and ads ending up in the wrong places) appears disastrous.

Just look at the latest TV ratings numbers released earlier this week by Pivotal Research’s Brian Wieser.

“Total day and prime time viewing of traditional TV programming among adults 18-49 fell by double digits again, while internet-connected-device-based viewing — most of which is not ad-supported — rose yet again by around 50% year-over-year. “

And national TV commercial impressions — i.e. the number of ads that got delivered to adults between the ages or 18 and 49 – slid 9.1% this June compare to last June, Pivotal reported.

In other words, old fashioned TV down, Netflix up.

Indeed, the story for traditional live commercial television has not been good of late. Have you seen the ratings lately for “Battle of the Network Stars” or “The Gong Show”? No seriously, those are real network TV shows in 2017. You missed those while watching “Game of Thrones” or streaming “Glow” on your phone. Don’t worry, coming this fall is a show about a magician who helps the FBI.

Meanwhile, look at what’s just happened with the TV upfronts, the annual compressed sales smorgasbord during which major TV networks try to sell off 75% of their ad space for the year. They were supposed to be down. But surprisingly, the market was up. Ad sales volume this year is supposed to climb by 3 or 4%, reported The Hollywood Reporter.


Linda yaccarino nbc universal poach

It seems like TV advertisers are facing the reality of having no place else to go. YouTube, which had been making major inroads with ad buyers as a legitimate TV alternative in recent years, has been rocked by scandal. Advertisers ads were spotted next to hate videos. And even though some advertisers have come back, several have not, reported The Wall Street Journal.

“The inability of companies of that magnitude to guarantee brand safety was truly the straw that broke the camel’s back,” NBCUniversal ad sales chairman Linda Yaccarino told The Hollywood Reporter.

Then of course, there’s Facebook, which since late last year has acknowledged a string of ad measurement mistakes that undermined ad buyers confidence in the platform. And those mistakes came at a time when many advertisers were already questioning how strong ad engagement was on Facebook, particularly with video that people can so easily flip past in their newfeeds.

That’s probably a big reason why Facebook is trying to get long form video content off the ground as quickly as possible (though of course, people have watch these shows before advertisers will get excited).

Big traditional marketers want to find an alternative to traditional live TV viewing — which is still huge, but eroding fast. They have got plenty of reasons to be sceptical about digital ads overall, which is why the giant platforms like Facebook and YouTube should theoreticaly win.

But right now, those outlets are struggling to prove they can provide a big, reliable, brand safe, curated environment for marketers. That’s at a time when serious money is seemingly up for grabs.

Big check
A huge check. Flickr/Roman Soto

Those conditions would seemingly provide a great opportunity for Snapchat, with its Discover environment. But Snapchat is still so new to many marketers, and it has plenty of its own ad challenges.

So for the time being, TV networks keep cashing big checks.