What you need to know in advertising today

Blackish abc tv show
ABC’s popular sitcom ‘Blackish’ ABC

Here are the stories from this week that got us thinking:

Have you noticed that the big TV networks are touting their upfront sales? For example, Adweek reported that Fox had pulled in solid price increases, though its sales volume was flat versus last year. ABC even put out a press release — a rarity — talking up its high single digit increases in pricing and revenue for this year’s upfront, i.e. the annual bonanza during which TV giants sell the majority of their ad space for the coming season.

You might ask — isn’t live TV viewing falling off a cliff? Isn’t everyone streaming Netflix or cutting the cord? What gives?

Even Viacom, the company behind MTV, which is starving for hits and relevance as its young audiences can’t stop looking at their phones, says it sold more ads and got better prices than last year, reported Adweek.

After all, going into this upfront season, the market was supposed to be soft, reported Deadline. So what happened?

To be sure, all this should be taken with a grain of salt. When TV networks say ‘We had a great year,’ it’s hard to know if they’re embellishing the truth. But given that most are part of public companies, upcoming earnings reports will be revealing.

You have to wonder, did TV win this year because web giants like YouTube and Facebook stumbled? Did these companies blow a chance to steal TV ad budgets this year due to self-inflicted wounds (ads running next to hate videos in YouTube’s case and miscounting ad metrics in Facebook’s)?

Or do marketers still not feel confident that the power of mass-delivered TV ads can be replaced?

In other news:

How a viral site for millennial ‘betches’ quietly became a full-blown media company. The team behind the satirical blog Betches are pushing into e-commerce, books, podcasts and native advertising.

Amazon could use Thursday Night Football to boost its advertising business. The company has quietly built a formidable competitor to the Facebook and Google duopoly.

NBC News interview on Trump’s voter-fraud commission went off the rails seconds after it started. The network’s Katy Tur immediately clashed with former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Fox Business has suspended anchor Charles Payne amid a harassment investigation, Variety reported. The allegation is the latest in a string of charges against the 21st Century Fox-owned news organisation.

Ad agencies may soon need to place top executives in charge of artificial intelligence initiatives, reports Ad Age. As more marketers experiment with bot technology and voice-enable devices, the need for expertise is expected to grow.