TV Networks, Advertisers Face Uncertain New Currency Path: What About The Upfront?

There has been much criticism around the way TV networks have banded together under the OpenAP joint group to form whatever named "committee" or consortium they need to foster alternative currencies.

A broad view goes beyond the question of whether this includes media agencies or other factors to look at the always controversial upfront ad marketplace itself.

“It’s unclear whether introducing an unknown variable really increases the desirability of upfront buying -- or whether it even enhances the upfront proposition,” Andrew Rosenman, global product marketing lead, advanced TV/video for Equativ, an ad-tech firm, tells TV Watch.

And as TV Watch has warned in the past, shifting metrics could have questionable or less value effect on media planning and historical price data.

But how to translate the past and apply that to the future? What about all those “base” CPM pricing structures that long-time marketers have had with the networks?



Even Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble, has called out TV networks over the upfront process -- regardless of transitioning “currency” from the likes of long-time providers like Nielsen -- essentially calling for its demise. He likens it to “toilet paper.”

Want to negotiate just-in-time media buying -- all at a long price? Sure, do your best. But market conditions can change. So then do you want to buy for the long term -- as a safety, as protection? There's the rub.

Rosenman says: “For advertisers who have built planning models predicated on Nielsen audiences, it may become challenging... [in] using their new metrics while maintaining other TV campaigns with partners who remain committed to Nielsen as a sole source.”

Even if -- by some rare occurrence -- one, two, three or more currencies are agreed upon, advertisers need to come to terms with those historical pricing markers. Transitioning to a variety of business outcomes or ROI measures will not be the same.

Still, one might say: “Hey, didn't the industry move to average minute commercial ratings -- C3, C7, C-whatever” -- back some 15 years ago -- from a live-only program measure?” Sure, but this measure was still based -- primarily -- on the same 40,000-panel effort by Nielsen.

Finally, joint industry groups  -- whatever name you give them, whoever gets a seat at the table -- have always had a weak record in performing well. Rosenman says: “The history of alliances and consortia in media and tech is not punctuated by many successes.”

How can it work? Perhaps if TV networks can push standards forward that rights owners “beyond their circle can embrace.”

Step into the TV measurement unknown.

1 comment about "TV Networks, Advertisers Face Uncertain New Currency Path: What About The Upfront?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 25, 2023 at 3:20 p.m.

    Wayne, I don't see a problem about "currency" developing as it is clear that the basic "audience currency"  for national TV will remain "average commercial minute ratings"  or individual commercial ratings---in each case based mainly on whether the ad message appeared on a TV screen----not that it was really watched---aka an "impression". Also, with either definition you will get basically the same answer as set usage ratings do not vary significantly from one commercial to the next in the same break---although this is not  true when attentive viewing is measured.

     As for the so-called "alternate currencies" you missed one word in their description. They are "secondary" currencies to be used here and there at the sellers' discretion as add-ons to the basic  "currency" which is what the seller will base its audience---er, "impression" ---tonnage delivery on. So there will be plenty of toilet paper in our TV buying/selling bathrooms when upfront time comes---as it surely will. Our trending charts will not be in jeopardy---they will still be based on puffed up "impressions" ----as always.

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