The TV upfront market is finally moving again,
as deals have begun to be completed.
But media buying and selling executives have had to contend with something extra this year
for nondisclosure agreements. More than a few major media agencies/advertisers asked media sellers, and other executives, to sign these accords, all with the aim of withholding key information
about deals to other clients, journalists, and any other interested parties.
TV executives say the reason is obvious: the fear that crucial price information will be leaked, which
could come back to haunt the media agency as well as other clients and network executives.
NDAs are typically used when an advertiser is launching a new product with a big campaign and
doesn't want a TV network to release specifics of that information: for example, price. Now, it seems this is being applied to bigger upfront deals.
One TV network advertising seller says
media agencies are to blame for this -- having grown so big they end up commoditizing TV inventory, which puts a heavy emphasis on price. Still, the ad seller believes few TV executives will
sign these agreements.
Wall Street analysts have also been increasingly focused on TV ad market information, including the upfront advertising sales bazaar, where some 75% of TV marketers'
annual budgets are committed before the start of the TV season in the fall. All that has ratcheted up the value on TV advertising intel.
Less information flow isn't a good idea. It actually
encourages more speculation, inaccuracies, and, in the end, market dis-information -- especially in the business press.
One media executive said the most recent upfront stalemate is rooted
in the fact the upfront marketplace is a living, breathing thing: "It needs oxygen -- and that comes from information. Without it, you don't have a market.