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    1. Retargeting
    2. How Connected TV Works
    3. Ad Builder
    4. Analytics & Reporting

    Your Primer On

    The Current State of Upfronts

    The Upfronts are a collection of presentations put on by the major television networks to showcase their upcoming programming. It allows them to present their updated content lineups to advertisers, who in turn buy ad time alongside the new shows.

    The process of buying TV ad blocks “up front” (hence the name) has recently come under renewed scrutiny. The uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 epidemic has led to louder calls for more flexibility and efficiency from buyers and sellers alike.

    But what does a new and improved system for buying TV advertising look like? We explore the current state of the Upfronts, and what it means when advertisers and publishers pursue a better way of doing things.

    “From the outside the Upfronts sound like a crazy concept, and I think even from the inside it’s starting to sound like an increasingly crazy concept—at least for the people making the commitments.”

    Mark Douglas
    SteelHouse President & CEO

    Industry Pulse:
    Here's What They're Saying

    Inside TV’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Upfront

    Some of the drops in advertising outlays could become permanent, as advertisers scramble to get commercials in front of a viewing public that is turning increasingly to streaming, on-demand video.

    Proctor & Gamble will shift from upfronts to direct TV buys, echoing advertiser concerns about model

    It said its decision came from a need for greater flexibility when buying ads closer to air, as well as a general lack of satisfaction with the current Upfront model.

    ‘There wasn’t a huge shift’: TV upfront market did not undergo expected overhaul this year

    While this year’s shift wasn’t as dramatic as some expected, linear TV’s Upfront power took a hit. TV networks pushed their streaming TV inventory to offset dips in traditional TV spending.

    With Upfront Ad Dollars Shrinking, CTV Could Bring Much-Needed Flexibility to TV Buying

    The rise of Connected TV viewing and the decline of linear TV audiences has both buyers and sellers yearning for more flexibility, according to Kevin Arrix, SVP of media sales at Dish.


    Advertisers Want to Shift Away From Upfronts

    Advertisers call for improved flexibility and efficient pricing

    You have to look far and wide to find anyone with anything positive to say about the current state of the Upfronts. It’s not just advertisers looking for a better way either; TV execs like Disney’s Bob Iger want to abandon the upfronts completely.

    COVID-19’s impact has accelerated the need for an improved system. It’s also fast-tracked Connected TV’s viewership growth, with the number jumping 81% YoY. Advertisers are beginning to gravitate toward streaming television because it not only reaches viewers where they’re watching, but provides the flexibility and accountability that’s lacking in traditional TV media buying.

    Connected TV Gives
    Advertisers an Alternative

    Connected TV advertising, which programmatically matches ads to audiences in real time rather than through upfront buys tied to programming, leads to impactful media buys without overbuying or waste on the advertiser side.

    We recommend TV advertisers look to Connected TV as a better, more efficient way of reaching your audience on television. It allows for strategic ad buying; you won’t be left buying too much or too little at the wrong price.

    “A better name than the ‘upfronts’ might be the ‘FOMOs’...We almost always end up buying too much. Buying too much inventory is inefficient at best, and at worst, leads to excess frequency through heavy ad loads in programs—annoying consumers and wasting money.”

    Marc Pritchard

    Marc Pritchard

    Chief Brand Officer

    Procter & Gamble


    Tap Into Connected TV’s Real-Time Media Buying

    A better system already exists on streaming television

    Advertisers are looking for flexibility with their TV buys, something which the outdated Upfronts model can’t accommodate. Digital advertising has shown there are more efficient ways that leverage real-time information to determine the best price.

    Connected TV is essentially a digital channel that finds its home on television screens. By applying the principles of programmatic, audience-first media buying, advertisers can drive more efficient outcomes with their ad budgets. This is a time for advertisers to increase spend on Connected TV, and begin to scale down their use of the antiquated Upfront system.

    Need a Better Way to Advertise on TV?

    Discover how you can effectively reach your audience on streaming television—all at a price that sets the stage for a solid return on investment.

    How SteelHouse Can Help

    Our Connected TV solution, SteelHouse Performance TV, reaches viewers with impactful ads streamed across top-tier Connected TV networks and apps. It’s designed to eliminate waste and only spend budget to target viewers likely to take action after seeing an ad.

    Audience First

    We highly recommend taking an audience-first approach. Upfronts rely on an inefficient programming-first system; while a good number of a targeted demographic will be watching, many aren’t. In fact, a portion of the viewing audience always falls outside the targeted demo, leading to wasted budget.

    Performance TV’s targeting isn’t based on programming, but rather the audience watching it—your ads find your audience regardless of what they’re watching.

    Key Considerations

    • The Upfront buying system is show-based; while advertisers can target their core demographic this way, they also spend budget on people outside of their demo as well.
    • Audience-first targeting eliminates waste because it serves ads solely to your intended audience.
    • Performance TV ads run on top networks, so it targets ideal audiences without compromising brand safety.
    Real-Time Auctions

    We recommend a nimble approach to media buying. Upfront pricing can be wildly offbase; you’re paying for something that may or may not have a higher or lower value when it comes time for the ad to run. This is one of the biggest issues advertisers and publishers have with the current process.

    Programmatic media buying solves for this. It takes all current information into account when determining the right price. SteelHouse Performance TV not only bids in real-time, but also on placements deemed to be most valuable based on an advertiser’s goals.

    Key Considerations

    • Upfront pricing doesn’t take current information into account, leading to overpaying or overbuying ad inventory.
    • Real-time auctions solve this issue by factoring in all relevant information, including what others are willing to pay.
    • Leveraging a platform like Performance TV ensures you pay the right price, every time.
    Measurable Performance

    Advertisers spent over $8B at the Upfronts in 2020, which is a substantial outlay for advertising that lacks a reliable, accurate way to measure its effectiveness. Ad spend of that magnitude needs accountability attached to it.

    Performance TV not only provides a more efficient way to buy media on television, but also gives advertisers accurate insight into campaign performance. You can track actions driven by your TV ads, including website visits, conversions, revenue, and more.

    Key Considerations

    • Television advertising’s lack of reliable measurement isn’t acceptable in an age where performance can be tracked on other ad channels.
    • Connected TV’s digital nature allows for digital metrics to be used; you can track customers’ journeys from first impression to conversion.
    • Performance TV provides a fully customizable reporting suite to track metrics that impact your bottom line, and is fully integrated into Google Analytics.

    Evaluate Your TV Buying Approach

    The need for flexibility, efficiency, and accountability in TV ad spend has never been higher.
    There’s a new way of buying TV inventory.
    See for yourself how much better it is.