Value of US upfronts queried

10 July 2013

NEW YORK: A majority of advertisers and agencies attending the annual upfront sales claim the presentations by TV networks do not influence where they will spend their money.

Advertiser Perceptions, the research firm, surveyed more than 300 marketers, agency executives and media buyers and found that 61% said their presence at the upfronts did not affect their decisions about the allocation of advertising dollars.

Bob Flood, VP-media consultant at Advertiser Perceptions, noted that "hundreds of millions of dollars" were spent on these events, and that the number was growing with the addition of the NewFronts, covering digital video.

"The people who matter most are getting annoyed that there are too many of them," he told Advertising Age.

Almost a third of the top executives who responded to the survey said the number of events being held made them less useful. On average, survey respondents attended 12 presentations, frequently complaining about what was on show.

Most said they were unimpressed by the presence of talent, with just 4% saying it was a major factor in their decision to attend. Some 42% said it was "somewhat influential" while for 38% it was "not very influential".

Despite this apparent reluctance, the show must go on, said Flood, observing that "anyone absent from the lineup will be noticed".

Flood added that media buyers and clients were most interested in seeing new programming and hearing about the network's strategy.

"[Upfronts] serve as a networking opportunity, are buzz-worthy and help develop more trustworthy relationships with the organization."

Networks can release all manner of research and data at these events and have celebrities perform but in the end everything comes down to price, the survey suggested.

Fully 82% of TV decision-makers and 76% of digital decision-makers reported that attractive pricing was the single thing most likely to convince them to spend more.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff