A few weeks ago, when Jack Myers suggested that I author a series about the run-up to the 22/23 Upfront featuring interviews with top research and business executives at the major sellers and buyers, the industry buzz had made it seem that dramatic changes would be occurring this time around. So, I came up with the series title “Upheaval Upfront.” I have a different feeling today, but I decided to stick with the name. I now think of the upheaval as a positive thing -- a pastiche of many innovations moving forward in a thoughtful, integrated way.
Despite all the contrary signs, Bloomberg reports that 2021 was the year of American corporations having their highest profits since 1950.Magna Global forecasts U.S. ad media investments will top $300 billion in 2022 for the first time. These indicators augur well for the 22/23 Upfront. The world’s largest advertisers understand that they can’t do it all with digital, and that a certain large amount of the right television is essential to their livelihoods.
The Upfront functions to provide marketers with a degree of closure on their plans as well as guarantees at decent prices. The most desirable inventory often can only be gotten in the Upfront because after that it is largely gone and the prices for it ascend. But which is the most desirable inventory? The highest rated is the general perception. However, specific programs at all rating levels may be very desirable for your brand because of advanced targeting attributes and/or contextual resonance with your creative (RMT). Such “brand-specific premium” inventory can be gotten at a relative steal.
Many brands are responding to the currents by incorporating positive ideals into their ads. So, we asked our good friend Tom Ziangas, Senior Vice President, Revenue and Strategic Research at Crown Media Family Networks, for his thoughts about this Upfront. Crown Media’s Hallmark Channels are highly resonant with “positivity, love and good things,” he says, which will amplify the effectiveness of those idealistic, altruistic ads.
Bill:What percent of your Upfront would you estimate will be based on traditional sex/age and Nielsen panel only, without Nielsen big data?
Tom:We were preparing for the current Nielsen Panel (not Nielsen Panel plus Big Data) since Nielsen announced that both data sets will be available. It would be problematical for the industry to not run in parallel for at least a year to establish trend lines with their new data set.
Bill:And if a specific account wants to make an Upfront deal on an alternative currency?
Tom:We’re very open to that and actively encouraging new approaches, through our industry collaboration with VAB, MRC and CIMM. Working with agencies, we’ve initiated pilots that explore and experiment with new players in the marketplace including Videoamp, iSpot TV and Comscore. However, being a mid-sized media company, we have to keep an eye on the justification of incremental research costs.
Bill: What portion of your Upfront do you think will involve advanced audiences beyond demographics?
Tom: It’s a small but growing part of our business. We’re open for business in Data Driven Linear (DDL) at Xandr and OpenAP and are flexible and responsive to what advertisers and agencies want.
Bill: What role will addressable TV play in your Upfront?
Tom: Client infrastructure and processes are key in the addressable space. We are currently working with Roku and Canoe, which will allow us to be ready to fill the demand when asked.
Bill: What’s your position on attention data?
Tom: I consider attention data important. So far, we’ve been using iSpot content and ad attention data. That said there’s no limit on who else we might work with on attention. (Note: iSpot “attention” data is based on retention of the tuning audience a la TRA (non-switchaway), not “Eyes on Screen” as in Adelaide and TVision.)
Bill: What sources do you use to estimate the unduplicated reach of linear plus Full Episode Player (FEP)?
Tom: A combination of Comscore and Nielsen plus our own VOD metrics.
Bill: Crown seems to be adapting well as the market shifts to streaming, addressability, constant data innovation and change.
Tom: Thanks. People understand the Hallmark brand. We have three linear channels -- the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Hallmark Drama -- plus Hallmark Movies Now, an SVOD service without ads for our core consumers. This service has a large selection of our original dramas and movies that our viewers enjoy and love. In addition, we are expanding our FAST/AVOD deals for Hallmark Movies & More, a free ad-supported service featuring our vast library of content with partners including Samsung TV+, Roku, Xumo and other FAST/AVOD platforms. We are continually working with all distribution platforms to further make our channel and content in this space available.
Bill: Thanks, Tom.
Tom: Thank you, Bill. I always enjoy talking with you. You’re one of the great prized possessions of our industry.
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