Media Buyers: Upfront Deals Remain Solid
Don't expect marketers to get into a panic over the current stock market gyrations -- not even taking the rare and drastic measures to alter the current in-process upfront TV buys.
The TV upfront market ended in June with advertising making "commitments" to networks. Typically, those deals -- virtually 100% of the time -- go to "order" in late August/early September.
Lee Doyle, CEO of Group M's media agency unit MEC North America, says technically the "window isn't closed" in adjusting TV upfront buys. But so far, he has no sign that TV advertisers want to cut back on proposed deals.
"It's only been a couple of days," he says. "We are not seeing any drastic reaction. The advertising market doesn't move in lock step with the stock market."
Audrey Siegel, co-founder/president of media agency TargetCast tcm, says: "I don't see it affecting fourth-quarter dollars. Those dollars are firm. [Networks] have sold 80% of their inventory. The worst that will happen is that scatter will become opportunistic, like it was in 2009, where there are better rates for marketers than in the upfront."
Even with the wild swings of the stock market, Siegel doesn't expect to see first-quarter options -- the first chance TV advertisers have to lower their yearly upfront buys -- occurring. The options period typically begins 30 to 60 days before the start of the quarter. She says: "Marketers don't like to exercise upfront options."
The good news for network television sellers: Throughout the last recession, which started about about three years ago, national TV remained fairly stable. But print, radio, local TV, and others took a beating.
While the perception was that many marketers cut back, in fact, it was three big categories that comprised much of the lowering of overall media budgets -- autos, financials, and retail -- in some key media platforms. Still, Doyle notes: "You might see hard goods, electronics and appliances, and travel get impacted." But he believes most media cuts -- if any -- will be small ad categories.
Siegel says: "When you think about the fourth quarter -- for retail, for entertainment, for travel, you have to be in it -- those marketers that pull back typically have a much harder time in getting back awareness and share."
Going forward, however, advertisers want to be able to make media adjustments more easily. Says Doyle: "Advertisers need greater flexibility. They are looking for us to find some of that."
Some TV selling proponents don't believe any big changes are coming -- yet.
Steve Lanzano, president/CEO of the TV station association TVB, says: "If the market volatility subsides, consumer confidence will remain stable. If not, consumers and advertisers will get nervous. Back-to-school consumer spending should provide a good barometer for retail spending in the upcoming holiday season. Bottom-line -- uncertainty makes advertisers and consumers nervous. But at this time it is not expected that planned advertising spending will be affected."