2 Networks Limit Prime-Time Ad Inventory

Don’t worry marketers -- there is plenty of inventory around. At least if you believe P&G.

Decisions by NBC and Fox cut back on prime-time inventory has marketers concerned -- as well as applauding -- at the same time.

NBC is seeking an overall plan of 10% pullback. Fox is initially targeting less clutter on its Sunday-night animated programming, just two TV commercials per advertising pod. This will work its way into other programming later in the year.

For marketers, this ties into a longtime compliant. Ad clutter on too many TV networks -- cable in particular -- is pushing close to 20 minutes per hour of non-programming content time going to national and local TV advertising, and on-air TV network promos.

Mark Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of P&G, tells Variety less is apparently more.

“When we looked at frequency, we found the average frequency was three, and we were reaching some people as many as 10 times, some as many as 20 times. What we are doing is cutting off that excess frequency,” he notes.



This may not be news to many TV media followers. The much-beloved media futuristic/guru Erwin Ephron promoted “recency” -- that just a single, timely exposure to an TV commercial can do the bulk of the work when it comes to engagement and moving potential customers.

Pritchard: “You don’t need that much frequency to be able to make sure you can register an impression. ... We’ve used our cognitive science to confirm it’s not rocket science to remember that Bounty is ‘the quicker-picker upper’ or ‘If it’s gotta be clean, it’s gotta be Tide.’ ”

The networks are finally getting in line.

Now the tricky part: Will TV commercial prices climb? You would have to think so. Someone would need to pay for those seemingly more valuable spots. At the same time, marketers will, in theory, save in other areas -- like paying for all that excess inventory.

The big question: Will more products be purchased? Attribution partnerships with TV networks may help to tell us that.

Will marketers see a big bounty out there? Maybe P&G won’t be the only ones to clean up.

1 comment about "2 Networks Limit Prime-Time Ad Inventory".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 16, 2018 at 8:10 a.m.

    Wayne, the idea that advertisers are exposing some people more often than might be desirable has nothing to do with the "less clutter" plans being touted by NBC and others. All media buys--TV, radio, magazines, digital, etc.--- expose some people---heavy media users---more often than ideal---that's nothing new and it's not going to change.

    As for the networks' new sales strategy all they are trying to do is take 10% of their usual primetime ad clutter---maybe one commercial per pod---and use that time to create a limited number of extra "premium breaks" with only a few commercials per break. The audience will remain the same but ad recall for those advertisers who buy into the "premium breaks" will, very likely, increase significantly. That's a given. And a plus for those advertisers.

    But let's be realistic.The core idea is to charge much more per viewer in "premium" breaks as the trade-off for better ad exposure. All told, the goal is to convert 10% of commercial time into breaks that garner up to double the normal ad revenue---thereby adding 5-10% to the overall ad dollar yield. This is a very smart move by the sellers and it may work to their advantage. I applaud them for it. But for the vast majority of the viewing situations, nothing much will change and few viewers will even notice that there is slightly less ad/promotional clutter in the non-premium breaks---- which will be where most of the networks' audience "impressions" will beĀ  still be generated.

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