Upfront Country: A Land Of $20 Billion Where Everyone Wants To Live

Another year, and the same media question comes up as in the past: “Will digital sellers, video and otherwise, participate in the annual upfront process held by networks in June?"

Many may still rail against the process, even those traditional TV sellers. And many digital advocates believe they don’t need the upfront. Yet it’s hard not to be part of the conversation when the biggest media platform garners the biggest dollars.

Do you want to be in a $20 billion conversation?

All year long media people are selling. That may be just philosophical stuff for many. The reality is that media planners work on their TV upfront stuff months in advance. So convincing some of those big marketers to shift money to digital can be a timing issue.

Social media often works because it is a part of something bigger, like when consumers feel comfortable talking about glitzy, popular content. Much of that stuff winds its way onto television. The trouble is that traditional TV wants a piece of this as well.

When a panel at the 4A’s Transformation L.A. event brought up the issue of digital being part of the upfront, IPG Mediabrands's Quentin George said his clients can’t wait for that to happen. Some did concede that digital is already part of the picture, but perhaps just as an “add-on” to the process.

A couple of decades ago cable TV and program syndicators were in similar spots, vying to grab a seat to compete with the broadcast networks. They were, in fact, the “new media” sellers -- kind of like where digital is now.

Of course, the major differences then were about "distribution" and "U.S. penetration coverage" and "time periods." All this now seems kind of trite since cable and syndication were selling video just like the broadcast networks. Digital, of course, does that and more.

Digital has some major issues in measurement and metrics. In this day and digital age, people expect all this to be solved -- that marketers should be able figure out easily what they get from traditional TV and new digital media. Not yet.

No matter. Conversations need to be started  -- and talk is cheap.

Tags: tv
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