Was TV Upfront Worth It For Marketers?

So for all those double-digit percentage increases in CPMs traditional TV platforms have been getting this upfront period -- as well as shifting of money from digital video areas -- marketers need to start asking questions, including: Was it worth it?

Fears about digital advertising issues like fraud and ad blocking pushed major marketers to rush back to TV platforms, according to media executives.  

Now that the dust has settled -- more or less -- media buying executives are making complaints about TV that have been made many times over the last few decades: ratings erosion, scarcity of those gross ratings points, and CPM inflation.

By any Nielsen measure you want to cite, broadcast erosion currently is around 5% to 7%, and erosion now increasingly affecting all top cable networks as well.

In June of this year, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst of Pivotal Research Group, said broadcast networks had an average reach of 80%, with cable networks such as TBS, TNT, FX, USA and AMC close to 50%.



Digital video platforms don’t have the reach nor the scale, but they have great targeting of consumers (when those platforms work the way the are supposed to), something traditional TV has been pursuing.

How long will these negative digital arguments last? Digital issues like ad blocking don’t seem to have a easy fix.

But now add in those macroeconomic problems:  If the TV scatter market suddenly takes a dive starting next TV season  -- as some have warned, yielding perhaps a return to a weak upfront market -- does this mean money will suddenly flow back to digital video platforms?

Facebook and YouTube, the big pure-play digital media platforms for video, would be two key companies to gain.

Longer term, though, this won’t be a battle between TV and “digital,” because that word is becoming more and more vague.  

TV transmission has been “digital” for some time. And looking at growing traditional TV online efforts -- through their own TV apps, platforms like Hulu, advertising-supported video-on-demand, and subscription VOD services -- it will become increasingly harder to distinguish between media competitors.

Will it be worth it, then?

2 comments about "Was TV Upfront Worth It For Marketers?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 26, 2016 at 3:44 p.m.

    Wayne, I'm afraid that nobody can answer your question---except, perhaps, a few direct response advertisers who bought some early AM or weekend time on cable and/or those "long tail" channels. As for the vast majority of the dollars spent, it's just a continuation of previous media plans, with somewhat less drifting towards digital than some expected.

    As for Brian's stats---actually, Nielsen's---if my assumption that these are household not viewer monthly reach projections, they have virtually no meaning. Moreover, when a broadcast TV network attains a monthly TV home reach of 80% its reach among most viewer segments is probably on the order of 60-65% and the same distinction applies for cable channels. For those who might be interested, we describe how TV networks and cable channels develop reach across extended time frames and how this accrues with combinations of dayparts and channels. It's all in "TV Dimensions 2016" and it's interesting reading.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 26, 2016 at 4:46 p.m.

    I see that I "lost" part of a sentence in my reply. Sigh!. In the first sentence in the second paragraph, make that, "if my assumption that these are household not viewer monthly reach projections is correct"---.

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