Since the dawn of 20th century advertising, TV has been king.

TV is still king. And TV is likely to remain king… for now. But our ever-evolving media consumption habits – namely, increased time staring at screens and streams – are reconfiguring advertising as we know it.

Until recently, advertising for digital (e.g. display ads, search, social ads, etc.) and TV have been distinctly different. Most digital ads are served programmatically in competitive auctions based on audience demographic and interest data. This model is less predictable than television advertising, which allows brands to select the specific networks and shows where ads will run. Typically, digital advertisers have paid per view of their ads online, making the cost per thousand impressions (or per click, per engagement, per conversion, the list goes on) a variable cost, compared to television ads, which are purchased in bundles at a fixed price.

Now, however, as an increasing number of consumers are cutting the cord, a few key players – Google, Facebook and Snap – are offering ad buying programs that resemble the television model. Brands will be able to purchase ad units within each digital platform’s respective streaming service – YouTube, Facebook Watch, and SnapChat Discover – at a fixed cost, ensuring two invaluable features for advertisers: choice and predictability.

Google Preferred

Brands using Google Preferred choose from 12 lineups of YouTube channels across categories such as Sports, Beauty & Fashion, Entertainment, or Foods & Recipes and share their messages alongside some of the most engaging content on YouTube. For example, Nike might purchase inventory within the “Sports Lineup”, and run ads during content produced by Dude Perfect – trick shot specialists with more than eight billion views on their YouTube videos.

Facebook Showcase

Every day, more than 140 million people spend at least one minute in Facebook Watch. Now, Facebook is allowing advertisers to reserve advertising inventory on shows like Returning the Favor, which garners hundreds of thousands of views on each video, with Facebook Showcase. Essentially, offering greater control of and transparency into where ads are being placed and exactly how much it’ll cost.

Snap Select

Snapchat is giving brands a way to run six-second commercials during the most premium shows in Snapchat Discover, where more than 450 premium content channels including NBCUniversal, ESPN, Viacom, and Discovery are currently airing across the globe. Snap Select will only feature shows with the largest audiences and the strongest engagement.

So what? And what’s next?

The coveted 18- to 34-year-old audience comprises a new generation of consumers who watch an increasing amount of content on their phones. And while TV may reign king for the time being, it would behoove us as marketers to continue revisiting how we distribute our advertising budgets. Better yet, perhaps we reconsider how we define TV versus digital when it comes to advertising, as the overlap only appears to be growing. 

As Facebook, Google, Snap and others roll out ad buying programs that resemble those for television, I’m predicting the emergence of a digital equivalent to TV Upfronts, where television networks roll out the red carpet for advertisers in an effort to secure their sponsorship. But instead, Facebook, Google and Snap will take the place of television networks, pitching advertisers on their premium content as prime real estate for their advertising dollars.

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