• The Reality of Web Video Advertising Just Doesn't Seem to Add Up

    Today's post is from TDG's Mugs Buckley, who discusses the confusing state of video advertising projections.

    The Reality of Web Video Advertising Just Doesn't Seem to Add Up

    by: Mugs Buckley, Contributing Analyst, The Diffusion Group

    I used to think I was pretty good at math, but after trying to make sense of recent forecasts regarding web video advertising, I'm beginning to doubt my skills. Let it be known that I'm a big believer in the growth potential of the Internet video ad business; I'm simply struggling to follow the numbers that have been reported. Since no single analysis offers an "apples-to-apples" industry comparison, I thought I'd offer up some of the available forecasts and offer a few thoughts.

    So here's where I'm stuck.

    The estimates and forecasts for only video ads are all over the place. For example:

    • eMarketer estimates that US marketers spent $775M in 2007 and will spend $1.3B in 2008 for online video streaming and in-page ads.
    • Jupiter Research predicts that 2008 online video ads in the US will yield $768M.
    • comScore reported that online viewers consumed 9.8B videos in January 2008 (down from December 2007's 10.1B) of which 3.4B were Google/YouTube videos.
    • In a November 2007 Financial Times article, a leading media buyer for Starcom Media Group (who is well aware of her buys and rates) predicted that the 2007 market for "The Big Four" broadcast networks was likely to generate around $120M.

    So here's where it gets a bit confusing.

    • If we use the 3.4B monthly view Google/YouTube view estimate for January and run that out for a 12-month period, add some growth for fun, we come up with about 45B views for all of 2008.
    • YouTube charges $15 CPMs for their in-video overlay ads (down from the initial $20 CPMs used during beta testing).
    • If 100% of the 45B Google/YouTube videos were sold at $15 CPMs, that would yield revenue of $675M. But that assumes 100% inventory sold, which won't happen for a variety for reasons (in particular because YouTube only sells overly ads on their contracted partner deals, not user-generated content).
    • According to Bear Stearns, YouTube is set to generate $22.6M in revenue for video ads, about 3.3% of the possible $675M at 100% inventory sold.

    Hmmm. So if YouTube (at 34% of all web video consumed) could generate $22.6M in revenue in 2008, and the Big Four were running about $120M in 2007, how does one arrive at these impressive near-billion dollar predictions? Where else is this revenue coming from?

    Let's not rule out operator error - I'll quickly admit that I may have misinterpreted how these numbers were derived and what they represent. That being said, however, there doesn't seem to be a rational way to reconcile these disparate estimates. Can anyone out there help to square these numbers? Is it simply a matter of under- or over-reporting? Are the measurement systems currently in place so poor and mutually exclusive in methodology that they necessarily offer conflicting estimates?

    Something just isn't adding up. Yes, this may seem to be a bit nit-picky on my part; the rambling of an analyst with too much time on her hands. Then again, without accurate revenue and usage estimates, it is impossible to know the real value of any form of advertising, much less an emerging model such as web-based video advertising.

    Please let us know what you think!

     
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