The 2023-24 upfront marketplace will be the most bifurcated yet in terms of the shift from linear TV to audience-buying, and it will likely be the one that passes an inflection point, Initiative Chief Partnerships Officer Maureen Bosetti said during a discussion of top agency media buyers at MediaPost's Outfront Forum Wednesday morning in New York City.
While many clients will continue to buy the upfront with a traditional linear programming mindset -- especially targeting big event programming like the Olympics, NBC's "SNL 50" anniversary event, etc. -- enough technology has come into place where advertisers and agencies can now simply buy reach wherever their audiences are, regardless of what programming they are watching, she explained.
"There's big events coming and then the rest of it is, 'I just want to extend my reach and find my audiences,'" she said, adding: "I think you're going to see a shift into 'Hey, how do I just find my audience wherever they are.' I feel like this could be the year we see a much bigger shift in that direction."
Bosetti echoed a theme expressed by other Outfont Forum panelists that upfront buying increasingly is shifting away from conventional programming slates and more toward a notion that audiences are self-defining what their premium viewing environments are, and leveraging data and technology to reach them increasingly will be the direction of the upfront's future.
How do you "find your audience where ever they are" when you are making a 30-brand upfront buy ---with all of the brands combined as if they were a single giant brand and much of the programming where your commercials are going to be placed in 6-18 months from now doesn't even exist yet? Do you assume that whatever the channel or network is getting now will be what it delivers next year? Even so, what "demo " or mindset do you go after to represent the targets that 30 brands, often in different product categories, are trying to reach? Finally, what data tells you that your future "audience"estimates----and that's all they are---represent actual contacts with consumers---not just that the ad message flashed across their households' screens?