Who's Overpromising Now

In talking to many of my buyer friends outside the realm of interactive, I've been hearing the same old tale: Broadcast is underdelivering. Generally, I'm not hearing that the number of spots is a problem. Rather, I'm hearing that TV is seriously underdelivering audience.

It's tough for TV advertisers to understand what kind of delivery they're achieving against their targets until after their activity has run. In general, a broadcast buyer will be able to get a handle on audience underdelivery only after a quarterly post is finalized. Makegood weight usually falls into the next quarter. But what if a buy with a particular network delivers only 60 percent of the weight it had guaranteed? Forty percent needs to be made up in the next quarter. With other advertisers falling short, this usually makes for a tight scatter market.

We've heard all about this year's successful upfront - Price increases climbing into the double digits with ratings projections that make buyers giggle and wonder if their counterparts on the selling side are serious at all. What stinks about this is that sellers are being rewarded twice for overpromising and underdelivering. First, the networks clean up with the commitments made during the upfront. Then, they benefit from a tight scatter market driven by scarcity exacerbated by the ridiculous amounts of makegood weight running. No matter that this weight is running only because the networks couldn't live up to their commitments in the first place.



If you're a typical TV advertiser and you've underdelivered significantly, you probably have a lot of makegood weight running. One of the problems with this is that you're not delivering what you need exactly when you need it. By the time post-buys come around, you're already well past the end of the quarter and it's too late to do anything about it.

How long can this situation last? Logic dictates that the makegood weight can't snowball forever. Nor can advertiser patience.

Contrast this situation with the one we have in interactive. Underdeliveries are addressed on the fly. If a client isn't getting what they need, the advertiser or the agency can see that in real time via their adserver and either bring it to a salesperson's attention or reallocate funds to media properties that can deliver on their promises.

Personally, if I were on the client side managing an agency relationship, I'd be telling my agency to look to more accountable media, particularly in the cases where I need media weight to be delivered in flight. This is often the case with seasonal or other time-sensitive promotions, new product launches or rebranding efforts. In these cases, significant makegood weight running in the next quarter won't be able to help me, so timely delivery is key. If TV can't deliver here, interactive should be making as much noise as possible about it, so that advertisers know they can count on our medium to deliver weight when it's needed.

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