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3 Key Takeaways From Upfronts 2018

July 24th, 2018   ||    by Melanie Brown   ||    No Comments

The upfronts—the Fashion Week of the television industry—are the launchpad for the coming year’s buying trends. With eMarketer estimating nearly $70 billion in television spending this year, networks pull out all the stops to impress. But with upfronts 2018 now behind us, it’s the perfect time to take a step back and look at this year’s key takeaways.

Less Ad Time, More Brand Engagement

In a somewhat counterintuitive move, a lot of network groups have begun the process of cutting back on ad inventory in primetime shows across their portfolio of networks. According to Variety, NBCU is cutting back on ads by 20 percent, and Turner, Fox, and Viacom have all toyed with the idea for a number of years now.

Network executives are touting the reduced ad time as more effective for the advertiser. The idea behind the cuts is to increase brand awareness for the advertiser, as well as engagement with the ad and brand.

Shifting Away From Nielsen’s Metrics

For years, the TV industry has lamented the limitation of Nielsen’s age and gender ratings. This year, leaders of large media conglomerates are vocalizing the sentiment, and calling on data and technology providers to find a solution.

Linda Yaccarino, NBCU’s chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships, has long been an advocate for reforming Nielsen’s ratings system. Two months ahead of upfronts 2018, Broadcasting & Cable covered NBCU’s launch of its new ad metric, CFlight, which is based on audience exposure to a campaign on both linear and digital. This year, as reported by MediaPost, Turner executives announced their intention to shift away from the Nielsen metric as well.

Expanding Into Broader Audience Solutions

Another trend that emerged during this upfront season was the conversion of linear TV with other offerings from the networks. Continuing along the vein of recent years’ focus on audience-based buying, network groups like Disney and Viacom have announced expansions into broader audience solutions.

MediaPost discussed Disney’s advanced advertising group, called Luminate, which pulls in data from third party sources to help optimize linear campaigns, guarantee on digital audience buys, and provide attribution reporting. According to Variety, Viacom is taking its offering in a slightly different direction, leveraging some of its recent acquisitions to provide brands with a full suite of marketing solutions in addition to their ad time.

So what do these takeaways mean for upfronts 2019? It all depends on if networks continue to reduce ad inventory, industry collaboration around measurement metrics, and how tech continues to advance data-driven targeting. But with the industry ripe with challenges as well as opportunities, we’re staying tuned to see how it all unfolds.

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