Stronger upfront expected


Despite fears of a recession and a crippling writers’ strike that has left television broadcasters bleeding viewers, ad buyers and network executives say the annual ad-buying ritual known as the "upfront" is likely to be stronger this year than last, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Ad sales execs across the TV industry are already having preliminary meetings with media buyers, and several say they don’t see signs of a pullback, said the story, although much of this “positive posturing” occurs yearly to keep prices inflated.

"We don’t really see a market slowdown in spending at this time," Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing at ABC told the paper. "We have marketers coming to us and talking about early deals."

Said the story: “One factor: Some marketers in recent years have held back during the upfront, only to be forced to pay more in the so-called scatter market, which is reserved for ad purchases bought closer to the air date. With some scatter prices currently more than 40% above last year’s upfront rates, a handful of major media buyers say they expect their clients to shift money into the upfront this year.”

A stronger upfront, however, doesn’t necessarily signal that advertisers will spend more over the course of 2008 than they did in 2007.

But a recession or any other kind of economic slowdown would likely have the biggest effect on overall TV ad buying, say media buyers. Cutting "advertising is one of the things one can do in a challenging economy to cut your costs," noted David Verklin, Aegis Media Americas CEO, in the story.