Network Radio Upfront update


As the annual network radio upfront negotiating season is just beginning, RBR/SmartMedia is providing a weekly progress update, based on conversations with buyers and sellers in the marketplace for our annual two-part print feature. This week, we look at excerpts: What is the marketplace looking like so far? It’s  changing a little bit. Last year Pfizer was in—a major player. Johnson & Johnson, which acquired Pfizer’s Consumer Health Care division late last year, isn’t as much of a major player in network radio. Still, there’s good news out there. Considering the state of radio in 2007, networks are more optimistic about 2008.  The upfront started slightly earlier and stronger than last year. Agnes Lukasewych, VP, Account Director Radio Broadcast, MPG agrees:  “I expect that many of the bigger advertisers will place ’08 well in advance of last year.”

What types and categories of advertisers are coming to, and leaving, network radio as of the past few years? Most say home improvement and retail are spending heavier than previous years but many are relying on specific day and dates rather than full rotations.  
Areas that are expected to be down are consumer products like J&J and P&G, according to Pat McNew, PHD EVP/Local Media Network Director of Operations. 
Mike Connolly, SVP Sales, ABC Radio Networks, supports this from the sales side: “The home improvement category, in particular, is expanding as The Home Depot’s strong presence and strong results have competitors taking notice and joining in.  Categories we have seen pull back lately have been OTC and packaged goods.”

Maja Mijatovic, Horizon Media Director of National Radio, notes retail is up, but automotive is down. “That’s really based on the state of automotive industry; pharmaceuticals are almost out because of recent rule and regulations—-:30 not long enough for messaging.  Some Entertainment clients are moving some dollars from national to local—simply because they are getting more value added locally and this is almost impossible to address on national side.”

Says Dial-Global President of Sales Eileen Decker: “The retail and tune in categories continue to be strong and growing.  As the network radio industry continues to take advantage of various technologies we are becoming much more user friendly to these type of advertisers.”
As well, Susan Love, VP/Sales & Marketing, Jones MediaAmerica, says Jones MediaAmerica has seen a tremendous resurgence of the now-stable dotcom business using network radio to drive people to their websites.  The only significant decreased use of the medium has come from those advertisers trying to reach a very young audience.