July 5, 2022

Madison Avenue’s Biggest Event Returns, to a Whole New World

The rapid changes in viewing habits have caused many marketing executives to shift toward ads placed through automated auctions and “away from legacy models like upfronts” where “advertiser choice is limited,” said Jeff Green, the chief executive of the ad-tech company The Trade Desk.

“As advertisers are seeing reach and impact erode from traditional cable television, they are focused on moving to premium streaming content,” he said during his company’s earnings call last week. “Increasingly, this is the most important buy on the media plan.”

But streaming will not be the only topic at the upfronts — the events themselves will also be center stage.

After two years of upfront pitches recorded from executives’ living rooms, buyers will fly into New York from around the country. They will shuttle among grand venues to watch presentations while seated alongside their competitors. Some venues are asking for proof of vaccination, while masks are a must at some; Disney is requiring a same-day negative Covid test.

To many networks, hosting an in-person upfront was nonnegotiable this year.

“This show cannot be too big,” Linda Yaccarino, the chairwoman of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, said she told producers of the company’s presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Monday. “Having everyone in the room together, there is no surrogate for that.”

“Every single brand and marketer and advertiser comes in for the upfront week,” said Rita Ferro, the president of Disney advertising sales and partnerships. “It’s going to look and feel very different because it is very different — there’s so much more that we’re bringing to the stage.”

Many of the week’s showcases will eschew a detailed rundown of nightly prime-time schedules and instead offer a more holistic view of available content platforms.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/16/business/media/upfronts-tv-warner-bros-discovery.html

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