Media Perspective: Integrating TV and digital offerings is agency challenge

All the hoopla surrounding the rise of online ad revenues has been accompanied by the caveat that one sector above all others, FMCG, remains immune to its charms.

The great hope being, among those with a vested interest in online display advertising, that display and video formats around professional video content will eventually lure in the refuseniks. After all, online video looks just like TV, which must reassure brand and media people at big FMCGs.

Most FMCG companies are now spending on online display so reports this week that Reckitt Benckiser is investing some $40 million in a global online video media strategy were hardly surprising. However, Reckitt is said to be playing hardball on rates and willing to use cheaper options than the likes of Hulu in the States and You Tube globally.

One interesting aspect of this is that Reckitt is treating this very much like a TV deal, and is looking for immediate sales impacts by buying a mix of premium and less premium sites through the video ad networks. Just as it might buy - or not as the case may be given its recent stand-off with Channel 4 - the major TV networks, then a bit of cheaper multi-channel inventory here and there.

Reckitt is also timing its online video spend to coincide with campaigns on TV, hardly the most surprising insight ever but a sign of integration between TV and online. And a move that points to the possibility that agencies that can't mirror such moves towards integration in their structures will struggle.

And the signs are that many media agencies will be in this unhappy place because, essentially, while their clients might have been through one or more revolutions in their business models in recent years, the majority of agencies are planning and buying media in pretty much exactly the same way as 20 years ago.

Some notable exceptions, the likes of MPG and OMD in the UK, have created structures where individual buyers work across media, usually with a focus on "video integration" in TV and online, but most have failed to bite the bullet. Yet, with Sony advertising YouTube through your telly in its latest Bravia ads, time has pretty much run out.

Agencies must play catch-up to reflect this and it will also be fascinating to see just how TV trading and regulation works when IPTV formats are layered over traditional TV ads. There are opportunities for broadcasters and for agencies in exploring how new revenues can work outside of the traditional agency TV deal and, as Reckitt is showing, advertisers are entering an era of great choice and flexibility. This will place greater pressures on agencies to modernise and upon the UK's commercial broadcasters to sort out their lacklustre digital offerings.