Despite cratering ratings, network TV had a big upfront sales period last spring. Just ask them. One problem: as always, the upfront represents promises to buy ads, not actual orders. Those are supposed to start coming in now, but it sounds like some palms are starting to sweat.
Typically, when firm orders materialise in the fall they’re 2% to 3% lower than committments in the spring. But media buyers are predicting that number could climb above 4% this year, as advertisers get cold feet. WPP’s Group M chief investment officer Rino Scanzoni tells Advertising Age the networks probably assumed a higher level of “breakage” this year than in year’s past.
Evidence is already in, however, that advertising is taking a hit. General Motors’ recent decision to walk away from advertising in ABC’s coming telecasts of the Emmys and the Oscars shows what happens when corporate and economic weaknesses start to press hard. “We are not abandoning TV by any means; it remains a key part of our media mix,” a GM spokeswoman said. The choice to leave the awards telecasts is part of a corporate “decision to reduce and consolidate sales and marketing budgets, with a focus on protecting launch products and brand advertising,” she said.
One buyer suggested that the auto category is where networks will see signs of slippage, while movie studios may want to add to what they have already reserved.
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