There’s no question the 2020/2021 upfronts season experienced a significant dip due to the pandemic’s impact on production and live sports, not to mention the uncertainty advertisers were facing. But to say that the upfronts are going away entirely would ignore the value they’ve long provided for both networks and advertisers, which are after all, essentially futures markets. It is true, however, that upfronts are evolving in response to changing consumer habits.
With so many new streaming platforms emerging, planning and executing the upfronts has become increasingly complex. Looking back a few short years ago, advertisers could reach virtually every household in the US by contacting a handful of TV networks to place a buy. Today, reaching that much of the country requires buyers to interact with a myriad of broadcasters, SVOD, and AVOD platforms, taking care to extend reach while avoiding over-frequency due to overlapping households.
Last year, between 25% and 30% of upfront budgets went to streaming inventory, according to Digiday. With the over-the-top (OTT) portion of the upfronts continuing to expand, marketers are increasingly realizing the benefits of using a unified platform to activate TV. Broadcast buyers and programmatic teams are often siloed, but we believe it’s possible for both teams to leverage this changing TV landscape for the benefit of clients. Here are three reasons why activating your upfronts programmatically will make your streaming dollars go further.
The TV media landscape might be fragmented, but that doesn’t mean your activation process has to be. IO based activation is very manual, requiring you and your team to work across dozens of networks and AVOD partners to manage creative assets, aggregate report data and make campaign or budget changes. The pain of traditional activation can cut into your ability to spend time evaluating and refining your campaigns.
When you activate in a DSP, you still run the show when it comes to negotiating your upfront deals. But once they’re in place, your team can manage all of them, and all your creative, in one easy to use platform. Pacing and reporting are consolidated and available every day, making it much easier to monitor delivery and performance, including insights based on your linear TV spend. Most importantly, you’ll be able to make impactful changes in the scatter market quickly and efficiently with the same access to premium TV content you’re used to buying.
When you activate all your media in one platform, you get better, more useful data. And with better data comes better insights, which you can leverage to understand, streamline, and optimize your media buying at any time. This enables you to minimize overlap and improve frequency control across networks and AVOD partners, all of which drive maximum impact from every media dollar. For example, if one of your AVOD partners had significantly less overlap with your linear TV campaign, you now know that is a smart place to double-down in the CTV scatter market.
Activating in a DSP not only gives you a unified view of delivery and reach, it also makes measuring campaign performance even easier. In a DSP, you can see real-time reporting on how your TV campaigns contributed to business outcomes like customer engagement and sales, helping you optimize current or future campaigns.
Programmatic unlocks the ability to weave upfronts together with your broader marketing strategy more seamlessly than ever before, allowing you to target audiences and supply that amplify reach. In a DSP, you can retarget or sequentially message users who have been exposed to your upfront buys across CTV and other digital channels. Or, you might decide to allow a household exposed to a specific TV campaign to be removed from an advertiser’s CTV target and moved into a mobile target to close the deal. These insights are available much more rapidly in the programmatic world compared to linear.
The right programmatic partner can help you shift your upfronts strategy to extend your media dollars and achieve the greatest impact. Look for a partner who offers measurement studies and comprehensive analysis at no cost, a scalable, future-proofed dataset to power those insights, and a dedicated service to help your team navigate the CTV landscape at every step. Contact Verizon Media today to activate within the Verizon Media DSP and start reshaping your upfronts strategy for long-term success.
— Beau Ordemann, Head of Advanced TV Sales and Strategy, Verizon Media