Do Other Media Need Upfront Markets?

Will there be more value, real and perceived, in the upfront this year? And not just for TV, but for the usual wannabe media suspects?

All U.S. TV advertising was up 5% in 2011 versus the year before, to $71.8 billion, according to Nielsen. Olympics and political  spending could improve this year’s growth to 6% to 7%.

Perhaps around $20 billion or more of that $70-plus billion will be inked during this summer’s upfront negotiations. All this growth signals that TV is still a big deal for broadcast networks, cable networks, syndicated programmers, TV stations and local cable.

As for the wannabe upfront media, online video should grow 22%, to $2.3 billion, this year. How much, if any, of that will go upfront? Hard to say, but perhaps some of it should.



Depending on estimates, according to eMarketer, it appears as though all advertising spending could grow around 2% to 3.5%, to some $160 billion. Overall Internet spending should grow at about the same level – 23% -- as online video, to just under $40 billion. Print could drop to around $34 billion, from $36 billion.

Lest people forget, at least a decade or more ago, there was plenty of talk about how TV marketers didn’t really need a national upfront. That didn’t work out.

With that in mind, and with big dollars still at stake, big online players -- YouTube, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Hulu, among them -- are pushing their own upfront this week, the so-called “newfront.”

Non-TV media looking to glom onto TV’s upfront market isn’t a new idea. Years ago, some big magazine groups tried their luck with “upfront” presentations. Hmm…where did that go, exactly?

All this has gotten TV Watch thinking about other upfront contenders: radio, out-of-home, newspapers, local digital, promotional, direct mail.

Some say that for all of this to happen, there needs to be a “scarcity” issue like in network television -- some piece of content, program or asset, that marketers desire to lock in months in advance.

New-media analysts might say the “scarcity” thing is a myth. All you need is to hit the consumer at the right time with the right message. Content is important, but it’s everywhere, and seemingly seeking a lower level with other content -- at least when it comes to TV network and some cable shows.

At the same time, media usage is growing. By some accounts, the average U.S. citizen interacts with 11 hours of media or communications a day.

What’s a marketer to do? Buy everything “upfront” for an entire year or season == and then take a vacation? Or tinker with media plans all year round? 

Perhaps the growing world of all media needs both an upfront market to set some bases and also short-term activities -- especially those where marketers can experiment with newer media alternatives.

1 comment about "Do Other Media Need Upfront Markets?".
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  1. Joshua Chasin from VideoAmp, April 30, 2012 at 2:16 p.m.

    I would argue that in digital, the dichotomy between buying premium inventory directly from publishers, versus bidding on cookie-targeted impressions via RTB, is already very much analogous to the upfront-versus-scatter dichotomy in network TV. RTB is the ultimate scatter market.

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