Back to Blog

Thank You (Upfronts), Next (with apologies to Ariana Grande)

  • - Gayatri Bhalla
  • 3 min read

Thought we’d draw in Millennials,
But broadcast just isn’t a match.
Wrote some big checks to the networks,
Now we shake our heads and question all that
‘Though we’ve been married (since 1962),
And last year spent $70 billion,
We’d like to hit the pause button,
‘Cause viewership’s sinkin’.

Like Ariana Grande, we have learned from but are outgrowing broadcast television. As a society, we’re growing beyond appointment-viewing and now summon the content we want to see on-demand: on our schedules, on multiple screens, and on our terms. Millennials and Gen Z not only left broadcast behind when they moved out of their parents’ house, but they’re not looking back. Nevermind the cord-cutters, we have a new generation of cord-nevers.

We’ve just wrapped up media’s antiquated debutante ball: the Upfronts. The guests of honor were primped and polished, but upon inspection, we see them clad in fashions of a bygone era. Savvy marketers are questioning the tired tradition altogether. Buying based on age and gender demos have gone the way of the dance card. And no matter how fluffy a bow is put on the Upfronts, the ribbons that hold together TV ratings are rapidly unraveling.

So what’s an advertiser to do? We may again take our cues from Ari:  

Reflect on what we’ve learned

Analyze viewing data by your priority audiences from at least the fourth quarter but ideally the last 12 months. Bring that audience analysis into your Upfront negotiations. Now is also the time to set your learning agenda for the coming year – be purposeful in setting your testing goals and selecting your measurement partners.

Set a new course

Set the table for streaming: streaming platforms are larger than the largest MVPD; OTT/CTV consumption has achieved scale. Set your test-and-learn agenda for streaming for the next six months and then deploy those learnings over the next six – does it fill an audience gap for your brand? Or extend reach? Are you gaining creative learnings that you can deploy broadly, including to linear? What mix of platforms is optimal?

Identify and retarget your under-exposed TV audiences: it’s possible today to quickly profile your linear TV audience, review the exposure data, and then identify which segments were underserved by the linear spots. From there, you can build an “under-served” audience, model it out as needed, and deploy that audience elsewhere (both TV and beyond) to make up for gaps in reach.  

Dance with multiple partners

Work with multiple MVPDs to execute a truly national buy with the greatest scale. Each MVPD audience will vary, so test into your best matches; don’t concentrate your budget on just one “national” player.

So thank you, Upfronts, it was good while it lasted, but It’s time for us to see other TV platforms.  Stay tuned for our next installment, “Break Up with Broadcast, (Not Just) because We’re Bored.”

Learn more about Advanced TV strategies and the future of people-based TV advertising.