NEW YORK: As Google and MediaVest agree a cross-media advertising deal and Instagram becomes the latest social network to roll out an ad platform, there are indications that marketers are beginning to catch up with consumers on digital media.

Brian Terkelsen, chief executive of MediaVest, thought the Google deal was a potentially defining moment. "For years, the digital world has been asking for the dollars and laying out a case for why," he said, in comments reported by the Financial Times.

"This is a moment in time where we are beginning to see a new level of transparency, a new level of partnership and a new appreciation of the size of the prize that is available," he continued.

With MediaVest's clients including major advertisers such as Coca-Cola, Honda and Walmart, tens of millions of dollars are being committed to buying advertising on Google's web and mobile networks and on YouTube.

Torrence Boone, Google's managing director of agency business development, was equally effusive about the partnership. "In many ways, the deal confirms the tremendous momentum that we have on YouTube and the importance of online video to brand marketers," he said.

Earlier this year MediaVest and WPP also struck upfront deals with Twitter, the microblogging site. And Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, has directed the group to spend more than half of its billings on digital media by 2014.

Some observers are now suggesting that such developments will have a negative impact on television advertising, with expenditure levelling off.

In a further sign of how the digital space is evolving, Instagram, the Facebook-owned social network, has started to test in-stream ads, but it is likely to proceed cautiously.

An Instagram blog post said: "We want ads to be creative and engaging, so we're starting with just a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community."

A focus on quality is paramount, to ensure that images reflect the site's aesthetic. Debra Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer, told Advertising Age that Instagram was "working really hard to make sure the ads are a good fit with the content". She suggested the aim was for ad quality to be on par with Vogue magazine.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff