Upfronts? NewFronts? How TV Media Buying is Changing
With Connected TV, Advertisers Will Do the Majority of their TV Buying Programmatically
Oct 17, 2018 10 Min Read
TV media buying, along with traditional TV viewing habits, have been changed by the advent of Connected TV. SteelHouse CMO David Simon believes there will be a sea change in the way TV media is bought and sold, and while he says there will always be a place for the way things are done now, with “fronts” like the upfronts and NewFronts, the majority of buying will take on a new look.
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So What are the TV Upfronts?
Before you can understand how big a change Connected TV is bringing to the industry, we should explain some terms in case you aren’t familiar.
The upfronts are a series of presentations major TV networks put on each year in New York to showcase their fall and midseason lineups to advertisers, press, and competing networks. The main reason behind the events is to convince advertisers to buy ad time during the upcoming premier programming blocks. And it’s quite the scene — people dress up for it, hors d’oeuvres and hand crafted cocktails are served, and networks have their stars come out and pitch brands on why it’s impossible to find a better place to spend their ad dollars. The idea is for advertisers to lock up premium, show-based inventory at the best price before other brands can claim it, and has been a mainstay tradition for buying TV media.
Okay, So What Are the NewFronts?
Not to be outdone, a few years back the IAB debuted the NewFronts, which is a series of presentations content publishers (AOL, Google, Yahoo, etc.) put on each year to convince advertisers to buy ad time during their premier digital video experiences. It’s the digital answer to the TV upfront, and it’s essentially designed to make TV buyers comfortable with spending their budgets on non-TV content. As one of the execs responsible for the creation of the NewFronts said, “It was always meant to feel like the upfronts.” And that makes sense — the upfronts have run for decades and are a lot of fun — who wouldn’t want to emulate them?
But the thing is, the marketplace for TV advertising is changing. We’re not saying the TV upfronts or NewFronts are going away anytime soon; there’s always a place for marquee advertising events and brands will always want the peace of mind knowing they’re buying exclusive, premium inventory. In fact, last week saw the first ever expansion of the NewFronts, NewFronts West.
But the role of major events like the TV upfronts or NewFronts could be in for a change with the advent of Connected TV, or CTV. Television has traditionally been a space for big brands to reach their audience, but CTV’s digital capabilities have opened the medium to brands of all sizes. And those brands won’t be buying advertising at an event in New York — they’ll be buying it anywhere they want from their laptops.
Why Connected TV is Changing TV Media Buying
With the rise of streaming and CTV, TV viewing habits and advertising have changed. CTV has turned television into a digital medium, which means the perks of digital advertising have come along with it. So what is it about Connected TV advertising that’s so different from traditional television?
- Audience Based | Traditional TV advertising is built around content, meaning advertisers buy time during specific programming in the hopes of reaching their audience. This a show-based approach. With Connected TV, advertisers can actually choose the audience they want to reach, using 3rd and 1st party targeting data. This ensures advertisers reach their intended audience.
- Budget Friendly | Because advertisers buy based on audience size, they have better control of how their budget is spent. The fact brands can narrow their focus to reach only meaningful consumers means they don’t have waste impressions on viewers who aren’t interested.
- Programmatic Advertising | Upfronts and NewFronts are fun, but they aren’t the most efficient way of buying media. CTV is programmatic, which means it’s easy to purchase through a self-serve platform like the SteelHouse Advertising Suite. All you need to do is pick your audience, set your budget and goal, and you’re ads are on TV.
- Digital Reporting | CTV comes complete with a host of digital analytics. Marketers can track vital metrics like site visits or performance by creative, giving them the information necessary to make informed decisions when it comes to their campaigns.
As Connected TV continues to grow in popularity amongst viewers and advertisers, it’s become clear that it’s changing the television landscape. Viewers can now watch what they want, when they want, on the device of their choosing. Advertisers can find and serve ads to viewers who they find most valuable, and track their performance with metrics that traditional TV advertisers can only dream of.
As Simon says in the video above, there will always be a place for the fronts. But the vast majority of TV buying is going to change forever, creating access for brands both big and small, and advertisers the world over will be the better for it.