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Direct Response Marketing

Media Buyers and Networks Unable to Reach Agreement

25 Jun, 2009 Response This Week


NEW YORK – Due to the economy and some technological challenges, media buyers and television ad salespeople seem to be having trouble agreeing on upfront network time this year, reports AdAge.com.

In a typical year, television networks sell as much as 80 percent of their ad inventory during the upfront. Normally, by the end of June, most of these sales would be complete. However, a disagreement over pricing has changed the game in 2009, and more advertisers are choosing to buy in the scatter market, weeks or just days ahead of an ad’s scheduled airtime.

“There is such a huge gap between what some of the sellers are posturing and what the real expectations of clients are that I feel like we’re not going to go anywhere fast,” an anonymous ad-buying executive tells AdAge.com. “To put it in plain terms, if my client went in right now and if there was an agreement to do anything outside of a deep negative, I’m not doing my job.”

In the past week, buyers started talk of possible negotiations with cable networks, which might be more willing to give up on their demands to reach 1,000 viewers for a lower price, or CPM. But so far, these negotiations haven’t taken root.

However, there are other deals in the works. Already, some networks are getting brand-integration and product-placement deals, which are agreed upon early in the year because of the complexity of inserting products into television programming before they go into production. Plus, more advertising clients have set budgets, giving networks a sense of how much time they need to sell upfront and how much they can hold back for the scatter market and still reach their sales goals.

If advertisers decide buying scatter is better this season, it may change the dynamics of the TV marketplace. More fluidity might mean clients are not assured of getting important inventory for fourth-quarter holiday sales, the Super Bowl or in other hit programs. How this affects the DR marketplace is also up in the air – additional availability may be a boon, but more general advertisers in the scatter pool could mean trouble.


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