Although they’re not exactly going head-to-head, in assessing Google’s and eBay’s respective attempts at online media buying systems for TV over the past six months, Adweek finds Google (NSDQ: GOOG) meeting with some success, while eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) continues to struggle.
Of course, that could have a lot to do with the dissimilar structures and aims of the two programs. Google’s media auction is more modest, starting off by selling targeted TV ads with Astound Broadband, a small Concord, CA. cable operator with 25,000 subs last March, and then signing an agreement with EchoStar’s (NSDQ: DISH) Dish network, which has 13.1 million subs, last April. That same month, eBay’s Online Media Exchange’s troubles began when the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau, which represents the cable nets, pulled out of a test of the auction company’s system less than a month after it was introduced. At the time, CAB cited a lack of interest on the part of members, complaints that the application was too narrow in scope, and that it lacked certain human intelligence necessary for an effective buy. As a result, only three networks are publicly participating in eBay’s OME system: Oxygen, Ion (formerly known as Pax TV) and TV One. And after lining up list of marketers who put up $50 million in ad spending to test the system, including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot and Intel, only the last two have have continued to buy TV spots through eBay.
In contrast, Google claims to have sold 100K TV spots to “dozens” of advertisers, several of which are in the top 10 ad spending categories since selling its first ad in May via Dish TV. The secret to Google’s success has to do with offering to freely share audience viewing data from Dish TV’s set-top boxes with its advertisers and their agencies. The information is available a day after an ad runs and shows how many viewers didn’t watch an ad and at what point they switched channels. Still, aside from that incentive, at least one exec whose cable net is working with Google’s system, said that there are not many other benefits to the online media auction model besides the consumer insights. Media buyers say the system is best suited to smaller marketers who have little experience buying TV.
For eBay’s part, the company insists that cable nets have misunderstood its system, which it describes as way for advertisers to request proposals, with negotiations occurring via email, not automated online. Andy Donchin, EVP, director of national broadcast at Aegis Group’s Carat, offers hope to both systems. With that the transition to digital resulting in an “explosion of channels,” Donchin tells Adweek that there will be no way media buyers will be able to handle all the added inventory, making additional help from online sales systems a necessity.