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Direct Response Marketing

TV Networks Counting on Last Minute Ad Buys

9 Sep, 2009 Response This Week

NEW YORK – All five broadcast networks and many cable networks are counting on selling advertising spots in the scatter market, purchased on an as-needed basis, rather than ahead of time, reports Many networks are reserving 10-percent more than the typical scatter market inventory, hoping that the slots will sell for better prices when the economy starts to bounce back.

Upfront ad volume sold was down between 10 and 20 percent, with broadcast prime-time spending coming between $7.8 billion and $8.1 billion. A year ago, prime-time upfront sales totaled $9.23 billion.

“Volume and pricing for scatter has been fine,” says Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing at Walt Disney’s ABC. “You have more on-time buying going on. A lot of times, you get a budget on Wednesday that Tuesday you didn’t know was coming – to be on the air the following week.” Instead, Shaw continues, broadcast is looking more like traditional cable ad sales in that the upfronts sold less and more will be sold in the scatter.

The trend in broadcast to mimic cable may be irreversible, but only time will tell. Many experts say the move is temporary because while marketers like the flexibility of the scatter market, eventually they’re not going to be able to always pay 10 to 20 percent above upfront pricing to keep that flexibility. How the general market attacks scatter availability will have a great effect on direct response buyers and rates, making this fall one of the more intriguing times in recent DR media history.

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