The big TV networks have been throwing a lot of punches at Facebook and Google this week.
The top broadcast and cable networks are hosting their annual ‘upfront’ presentations in New York this week — during which they try to convince ad buyers to spend more of their budgets on TV ads. And a recurring theme has been pounding digital advertising, and Facebook and Google in particular, for the medium’s recent string of mishaps.
There’s a ton at stake for TV networks, as digital advertising revenue surpassed TV ad spending for the first time last year. And Google and Facebook are taking upwards of 85 cents of every new digital ad dollar hitting the marketplace by some estimates.
TV executives have been relishing pointing out some of the screwups. At the ESPN upfront on Tuesday morning, host Kenny Mayne made a crack about social media metrics being made up. That was after a musical group sang about hoping for numbers they can trust.
Later, ESPN’s senior vice president of sales and marketing Patricia Berton said “there is nothing unpredictable about investing with ESPN,” seemingly to imply that digital media companies couldn’t promise much in the way of predictability.
Wendell Scott, ESPN’s senior vice president of multimedia sales, added that the network is able to deliver real ads to “real people.”
On Monday, some of the major broadcast networks were even harsher. NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarion, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, poked at digital media companies for “grading their own homework” while struggling to provide brands a safe environment. “Television is the most effective ad medium ever,” she said. “Our friends in Silicon Valley know it.”
Meanwhile, at Fox’s upfront, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane sang about the dangers of advertisers ending up next to ISIS videos on the web. Meanwhile, newly installed sales chief Joe Marchese compared the state of digital media to the subprime mortgage crisis, while calling into question some of the massive audiences self-reported by top social apps.
He even mouthed a portion of his presentation without actually saying anything, looking to mock the way that many people watch videos on mobile devices without the sound turned on.
Of course, while the TV executives look to exploit a rare moment when digital giants like Facebook and Google are vulnerable, they are off course ignoring the elephant in the room. Live TV viewership continues to freefall, as people watch more video content on their own time, often without ads.
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