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GroupM says multi-million dollar YouTube deal could be ‘first of many’

Danny-BassGroupM chief intelligence officer Danny Bass has signalled the media buying group is open to doing other exclusive video deals with the likes of Facebook, Mi9 and others in a similar vein to its new Youtube preferred partner deal.

Google last night confirmed GroupM has secured the right to be the exclusive partner on its new Google Preferred program in 2015, giving WPP’s Australian media agencies the first rights to much of the online behemoth’s premium content, along with new demographic and geographic targeting in return for an upfront commitment of the group’s Youtube spend next year.

Speaking to Mumbrella after the Brandcast event last night Bass said: “We are talking about YouTube tonight but you have Facebook coming in at some stage next year in a big way in video.“Whether we do (more deals) or we don’t this is set up to allow us to very quickly assess whether a new (video) inventory source would work across our client portfolio.

“Our MDesk (product) gives full transparency, benchmarks all CPMs. People might look at this and say it’s not good news for TV but at the end of the day video CPMs are extremely expensive.”

GroupM is rumoured to have committed more than $20m to secure the deal.

However Google’s decision to feature the deal at the upfront-style event, which included performances by musicians Kimbra and Empire of the Sun and appearances by Vice Media’s global head Hosi Simon and its Youtube stars Bethany Mota and Troye Sivan, drew criticism from GroupM’s rivals.

“I thought throwing a GroupM partnership in the faces of an audience of whom 80 per cent weren’t GroupM wasn’t an overly smart thing to do, and incredibly frustrating, and almost disrespectful, to the rest of the media community who have supported Google a great deal,” said one agency CEO who declined to be named.

GroupM’s Bass would not be drawn on what the deal meant for the market, arguing that was a question for Google. But he said the deal gave their agencies Maxus, MEC, Mediacom and Mindshare a “first mover advantage.”

“Google can answer (what it means for the market). I care about GroupM and no one else,” said Bass. “We get first mover advantage, I think we genuinely can have a conversation with clients that other agencies can’t and we will have a year of learning through. And while it won’t be for all clients,  I think we will have a group of early adopting clients.”

Asked about the nature of the deal Bass explained: “We have worked with YouTube on their premium channels and we have gone through each and every one of those to agree whether they fall into our understanding of that.

“We will get the first opportunity to secure all of that inventory, should we need it, and also have exclusivity on certain key buying demographics. At the end of the day YouTube reaches 9.5m Australians and it is not for us to be the arbiter of what is premium and what isn’t,”  he said. “If we know more about that journey and the consumer then that’s a opportunity for the client.

“What this deal does is give us some security and stability and the ability to say this is what we will deliver you for next year.

“This is not about the death of TV, it’s not about shifting the enormous budgets away from TV, it is about creating a very transparent and clear platform for buyers and clients to buy.”

“What we are doing through our MDesk approach is to create a very clear view for our media buyers and our clients to truly for the first time make key decisions based on where they think the best fit for their media is,” said Bass.

“Previously a lot of the online video has been in the digital bucket and there are reasons why. But there is a now a point in time where we have to look at things in an unemotional way and compare it to tent pole shows like MKR and The Block, that we have always supported.

“YouTube would acknowledge that they are not at a stage where one of their shows would stack up against a final of The Block, but not every client sponsors The Block.

“Where we are today could be very different to where we are in a year’s time. What this does is give us another layer of the progression of our agencies and we are confident it will springboard us into 2016 and 2017.”

CEO Maile Carnegie said in a media statement: “We’re thrilled to work with GroupM to connect brands with YouTube’s top content and highly engaged, passionate audience.”

The company’s head of agency Lisa Bora downplayed the holding company’s first rights access to premium content.

“We presented the opportunity to all of our key partners and we are delighted that GroupM had the appetite to take this opportunity on in our maiden year,” said Bora.

“Google Preferred is just one buying method across our network. The program is a buying method but you can actually connect to a raft and breadth of premium content on Youtube in many other ways.

“It’s a buying method that is geo and demo targetable, that is the distinction. Most of our partnerships to date haven’t been using that method in terms of what we currently have with our agency partners accessing that content is still very much available. The program itself is a new way of buying which the industry has been asking for and which we responded to.

“It is a buying method that is talking to a geo and demo targetability we would never otherwise have made available.”

Nic Christensen 

Disclaimer: YouTube is currently advertising on Mumbrella

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