Last year, so-called “digital upfronts” were all the rage, as Web players tried to get the attention of ad buyers by aping TV’s glitz fests/sales ptiches. No more. NBC is talking about dropping its upfront. And Yahoo, which held its first TV-style “upfront” last year, tells SAI that it’s dropped the gambit — and that seems to be the norm among digital players.
“We did it last year to jumpstart the dialog with media strategists and broadcast buyers, as well as the digital people we work with all the time,” says Mark McLaughlin, YHOO’s VP of audience development. This year, he says, “we are not having an ‘upfront’ as a specific event. We are having more proprietary discussions with major agencies.”
One important caveat: Yahoo, Microsoft’s MSN and other Web biggies may not be throwing big parties, but they are selling some ad space up to a year in advance, just like the TV networks do. The difference: The Web guys are only selling a fraction of their inventory ahead of time — namely, their home pages and a few other sites with predictably high traffic. But the TV guys are still able to do that with almost all of their commercial slots.
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