Tag Archive: new normal

  1. Will the coronavirus pandemic drive seismic changes to the Upfront market?

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    Coronavirus is a catalyst for changes that have been years in the making. Nowhere is that truer than the advertising industry, which has seen the adoption of new habits which might previously have taken years happen in a matter of weeks.  

    When and how will the Upfronts occur this year?

    One key area of change for the US market is the TV Upfront ecosystem. With production grinding to a halt and much of the country still in lockdown when Upfronts were meant to kick off, the question is, when and how will the Upfronts occur this year? Many key industry players have long pushed for the Upfronts to switch to a calendar year model, rather than the broadcast year of October to September. At the end of May, the ANA Media Advisory Board recommended a sweeping transformation of the system, causing a huge shake up in the media world. But how will it all pan out? 

    TV has transformed dramatically

    Few would argue that TV’s OctobertoSeptember timeframe is outdated. It harks back to a time when TV was mainly appointment viewing, with a set year-round schedule of shows having first runs from October to May, with reruns over the summer. This in turn is rooted in historic business movements: car companies used to unveil new vehicle models in the fall, so TV launched its new season to tie in with thatBut the TV sector has transformed dramatically in recent years: the proliferation of channels and programming means new content is available throughout the year. What’s more, appointment viewing has dissolved with the growth of time-shifted viewing, on-demand, OTT and CTV platforms; Nielsen found that the streaming share of TV is now at 23%, up from 14% compared to the same period a year before, and is expected to continue its growth trajectory. 

    Allowing for a better understanding of budgets

    The suggested shift to a calendar-year model would allow advertisers until Q4 to get a good understanding of their budgets for the following year – especially important this year when all industries have experienced so much disruption. However, many of the large, traditional advertisers are set on signing upfront deals under the traditional broadcast-year model; even if the networks do choose to shift to the calendar year model, it would be easy to put aside the inventory that the big players normally go for, leaving newer advertisers with the ‘leftovers’ in the calendar-year marketplace or the more expensive scatter market. 

    The absence of live sports

    Another compelling reason to push back the Upfronts is the current absence of live sports, and how the ‘withdrawal’ that many viewers and advertisers have felt will affect viewership when they are finally allowed to play again. The fact that games will be played ‘behind closed doors’ means that TV audiences are likely to be through the roof; it will be very difficult to estimate prices for ad spots until networks have a better idea of what those audiences will look like. In that light, shifting the Upfronts to Q4 seems like the right thing to do.  

    A chance to align the Upfronts and Newfronts

    Shifting the Upfronts would present an opportunity to align them with the increasingly important Newfronts – a desirable outcome for both advertisers and media buyers. 72% of media buyers say that Newfronts are more important than ever, and nearly half want the Newfront presentations to merge with the Upfronts. A key factor in this is that 39% favor merging the two to help buyers better understand measurement and research across screens – which could in turn improve performance. There is a finite amount of reach available through linear TV and, in order to expand coverage or just reach the same number of consumers as before, advertisers need to diversify their media mix. 50% of marketers will increase their spend in CTV, OTT and Digital Video, while linear TV is likely to see a decrease. Advertisers will be looking to buy audiences agnostically across a network’s linear and digital assets: a compelling argument for merged Upfronts and Newfronts. 

    The time is now

    All in all, it seems that transforming the Upfronts timeframe to a calendar model makes a lot of sense. It will be uncomfortable for a while, but doing it in a year when the status quo has been disrupted so fundamentally and the landscape has transformed so dramatically anyway seems a good time to do it. Time will inevitably tell. 

    Advertisers should re-evaluate their media mix and KPIs

    Regardless of whether the Upfronts shift to a calendar-year format, or whether they merge with the Newfronts, this is a good time for advertisers to re-evaluate their media mix and KPIs, and to negotiate better deals with vendors.  

    • Buy flexibility: Flexibility has been an increasing priority for advertisers over the last few years, and the fact that so much new programming has been shelved as production is halted means that flexibility is more important than ever. Cognizant of the marketplace, vendors are likely to be more willing to provide more flexibility.  
    • Consider scatter opportunities: Marketplace uncertainty means that Upfront commitments are expected to be much lower than in previous years. This means that there will be more high-quality inventory left over for the scatter market – particularly as there is likely to be more certainty around programming and production as time progresses. 
    • Review your TV/digital mixWith 59% of media buyers expecting to increase their CTV/OTT budgets in the second half of 2020 compared to 2019, wise advertisers will consider where their audiences are, and the best touchpoints. 

    2020 has doubtless been a year of disruption and sleepless nights for advertisers and buyers in the US and worldwide, but with strategic thinking and agility, the transformation to the media landscape can be turned into an opportunity for the savvy advertiser. If you would like to discuss with one of our experts how you can identify and exploit the opportunities, please feel free to contact us on   

    Image: Vasyl Shulga / Shutterstock

  2. What will the ‘new normal’ be for the advertising industry?

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    It won’t be news to you that the coronavirus pandemic has changed how we do marketing in 2020. Consumer behaviour and confidence have been transformed by lockdown restrictions around the world, with digital and TV now the primary media consumed. Many media channels have seen significant changes to pricing inflation forecasts, with digital the only media forecast to see inflation consistently, if at reduced levels compared to forecasts earlier this year. Many other media, particularly the traditional ones, are expected to suffer severe deflation.

    The brands that emerge the most unscathed from this crisis will be the ones that have adapted to the rapidly transforming media landscape – not least because those changes will have lasting repercussions for the advertising industry and marketing as a discipline. Furthermore, many brands will have acquired or honed a new set of skills and mindsets which will help them to succeed in the ‘new normal’.

    More digital than ever

    The principle reason for the resilience of digital media over the last few months is the fundamental change in consumer behaviour. Bored at home and without the diversions of normal everyday life, people have turned to the internet for entertainment. Brands have followed them – but this move makes sense not just because of the increased eyeballs. Digital is also more agile than the traditional media, allowing for swift changes in direction: programmatic means that campaigns can follow impressions. The more traditional media are frequently less flexible, meaning that, at the start of the pandemic at least, many TV and OOH campaigns jarred with the new reality. Brands that previously relied on offline media have had their eyes opened to the opportunities that digital presents.

    Genuine purpose

    The idea of purpose being at the heart of a brand’s marketing strategy isn’t new, but the pandemic has seen a desire for more authentic behaviour from brands. In this time of great hardship for so many, it’s not enough to pretend: brands must be genuinely supportive, whether that’s by offering a service, helping a specific community or simply by providing high quality entertainment. What brands say is less important than how they behave, and they should focus on solutions rather than purely selling. 1 in 3 consumers have punished a brand that has not responded well to the pandemic by persuading others to stop using that brand.

    A new skillset

    The pandemic has forced advertisers and agencies to adapt to a new way of operating, with new skills and mindsets acquired or honed. These skills will serve the entire industry well as we all emerge slowly into a post-coronavirus world, and could be behind an exciting shift.

    The advertising industry hinges on innovation, and never has it been so necessary as now. The coronavirus pandemic has overturned normal ways of working and living, necessitating new ways of reaching and engaging with consumers. AI and chatbots, for example, have been harnessed by many brands who are having to rely on virtual services more than normal – and it appears that consumers are also becoming more comfortable with this way of communicating

    Of course, the ability to innovate and work with the latest technology is born of a willingness to be open to new ideas, and to collaborate closely, despite restrictions on physically working together. Sharp U-turns in strategy and messaging require trust in partners and decisive action. The result is an approach to marketing which centres on testing and learning, rather than caution, and that can only be a good thing in such a fast-changing industry.

    Let the consumer be your guide

    Ultimately, the key to successful marketing has not changed: it is the consumer that should be at the heart of a marketing strategy. Brands and their agencies need to focus on the consumer’s needs and desires as a guiding light, using data to understand exactly what those are. In that way, the post-coronavirus world won’t be very different – but reaching that end point might be.

    Image: Aon Khanisorn / Shutterstock