Alistair Barr says that Google struck an "upfront" deal with Magna Global, one of the world's largest advertising buyers, the latest effort by the Internet search leader to win more of the marketing dollars that traditionally pour into TV each year.
Magna Global, a unit of Interpublic Group that oversees $37 billion in annual ad spending, committed about $100 million of client marketing money to Google properties, including YouTube, its online display ad network and mobile platform.
The deal lasts a year and may be renewed if the partnership goes well. This is the first time Magna has struck such an agreement with Google. For its part, Google signed similar deals last year with other agency ad buyers MediaVest and Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi and Razorfish.
In return for Magna's financial commitment, the agency gets access to Google ad inventory and data, along with the chance to work more closely on client marketing campaigns with the Web giant. This is similar to the way TV upfront advertising deals are put together each year.
"There's the notion of being able to tap into scarcity around inventory, which is critical and underpins the upfront model in TV," said Torrence Boone, managing director of agency business development for Google in the Americas. "That model is porting over to digital."
Google is trying to win more business from big brands by making the process of creating, buying and monitoring ads similar to the way these things are done in the TV business.
A group of technology firms, including Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft, created the NewFronts event a few years ago — a digital version of the TV industry's annual upfronts, where billions of dollars in ad slots for popular programming are purchased ahead of time.
In the context of this year's NewFronts event, which kicks off in New York City in late April, Google will unveil a new class of scarce, premium ad inventory, Boone noted.
"Each player will partner with us to access that premium inventory and work with content creators in new and innovative ways," he added.
Magna Global probably spends more with Google than any other partner, so this upfront deal cements the relationship in a way that lets both sides work more closely together on bigger projects, Chris Williams, president of Magna Global, explained.
Magna Global made the upfront commitment partly to improve its access to some of Google's ad inventory, Williams added, noting that YouTube pricing has become more attractive in recent years.
"Advertisers are going to need home page takeovers on YouTube for key launches, and we need to be able to deliver that to them," Williams said. "An ad hoc relationship with a media owner can restrict your chances of securing inventory when you need it. It certainly improves your chances when you're in this closer type of relationship."
However, both Williams and Boone said the deal is not just about access to inventory.
Williams expects to get more data from Google that will help Magna target ads more precisely and make the planning and buying process more seamless and automated.
Google and Magna will also work more closely on creating content that works well on YouTube and other Google properties.
Boone cited the example of Project Elevate, which is helping a Magna Global client, health care giant Johnson & Johnson, create interesting video content on YouTube.
"This upfront investment provides the air cover for these more strategic projects," Boone said.