Upfront Market 2022-23: Expect More 'Secondary Guarantees'

With all the headlines around new measurement and currencies in the news for national TV advertisers, we might think new cross-platform metrics are just around the corner -- especially for the upfront advertising market starting this summer.

Tone down your expectations.

We should think more about “secondary guarantees” -- which would not replace primary Nielsen viewing guarantees, but where some brands would make new deals that also would include older legacy TV viewers' promises.

To be fair, these might be limited in nature -- according to the specifics of the brand, over a tight time period, and around a narrower targeted measure for, say, a select group of shows.

Yes, there are tons of qualifiers in that last sentence. Well, it’s a start -- or should I say a continuation of efforts that began in recent years.



Last year, for example, A+E Networks talked up “secondary guarantees” for marketers.

It did this by shifting away from typical demographics metrics-attached deals to total audience guarantees as its primary mode of transaction, where demographic viewing groups -- 18-49 viewers and 25-54 viewers, for example -- were offered as secondary guarantees.

This followed a more adventurous move by A+E in May 2018, in which the network group became what was believed to be the first to make business-outcome guarantees for a select group of advertisers targeting specific criteria.

New secondary guarantees would go further -- and that might lead some to ask: What's the incentive for TV networks to give themselves more work -- and possibly make it more difficult for to monetize their ad inventory?

Well, there are lots of incentives -- including the promise of more healthy linear, TV-based cross-platform advertising for the future -- linear TV, connected TV, or whatever.

TV networks are doing their part, pulling in all sorts of new measurement from a number of non-Nielsen companies. Some -- like Disney Advertising, NBCUniversal, Paramount Global and WarnerMedia -- are either doing a number of tests with media agency holding company groups -- or, in NBCUniversal's case, actually give “certified” status to measurement companies like

There is still a long way to go -- like requiring independent Media Rating Council accreditation, according to many executives. They don’t want -- as MediaPost Editor In Chief Joe Mandese has said many times -- to have media content companies "grading their own homework."

New secondary guarantees can be seen as a testing hedge for certain brands to see whether any of these new measurements offers results with stronger, more predictable attribution data and successful business outcomes.

Working on these "secondary guarantees" will enable marketers to get in on the ground floor. But the key here comes down to the word "working."

1 comment about "Upfront Market 2022-23: Expect More 'Secondary Guarantees'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 8, 2022 at 10:34 a.m.

    Wayne,  as the upfront is primarily a corporate buy not a brand-specific buy one has to wonder what kinds of "secondary guarantees" the sellers might offer. For example, if a corporate upfront buy is being made for 25 brands in 10 different product categories--- all in one big lump---the seller certainly can't promise that the schedule will deliver, say, 100,000 clickthroughs for one of the brands when that brand's schedule hasn't even been allocated regarding what programs it's commercials will appear in. So, maybe, a 25-brand gross click through guarantee might be offered with the seller hedging its bets and keeping the promise well within what is usully garnered in such cases.

    As for A&E switching to total viewer or adult viewer GRPs and away from 18-49/25-54 that's simply a sound move to stop giving away older audiences which the "pay TV" sellers still have in abundandce and attempting to monetize all of A&E's viewers. Makes lots of sense. Why guarantee delivery against an 18-49/25-54 demo which consitiutes a shrinking minority of your viewership?

    Frankly, despite all of the talk about alternative currencies and rating methodologies, I doubt that the upcoming upfront will be conducted in a materially different manner than previous ones---though a few of these unusual deals involving "secondary metrics" may be negotiated. We'll keep an eye on this when we do our research on the upfront and report anything of significance that we find.

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