MediaWorks Viewpoint: Evaluating Buy Proposals

A Checklist for This Year's TV Upfront Deals

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- This is not your daddy's upfront. So it's particularly important to pay close attention to the implications of new audience measurements for commercial ratings and DVR viewing as well as to an apparent leap in pricing. Comparisons to historical buys and third-party benchmarks need to be examined closely to ensure they are valid, i.e., "apples to apples."
Gene DeWitt is CEO of DeWitt Media Strategies. | ALSO: Comment on this viewpoint in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
Gene DeWitt is CEO of DeWitt Media Strategies. | ALSO: Comment on this viewpoint in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
An astute marketer will also want to understand the rationale for changes before accepting them, as everything is open to negotiation in this marketplace.

Last month we reviewed a pre-buy checklist for upfront advertisers. Now that negotiations are well on their way to being wrapped up, here are some things to look for before approving the buy proposals that are coming your way.

CHECKLIST FOR EVALUATING UPFRONT BUY PROPOSALS

Ratings:

1. Are ratings goals met in each daypart?

2. Are variations vs. goals a result of buyer agility in response to changing market conditions or did the buyer just pay more than was budgeted to reach its goals?

3. What ratings currency was used and why? Commercial ratings? For DVR, live-plus-what?

4. Have DVR viewers been discounted for zapping?

5. Why not live-only?

Pricing:

1. How does the pricing of the buy compare with industry averages and historical buys (e.g., last year's)?

2. Are comparisons done separately for broadcast and cable? They should be.

3. Are comparisons done for each daypart? They should be.

4. Do comparisons take into account differences in the message-length mix (i.e., percent in 30-second spots vs. 15-second spots)? They should.

Programming:

1. What proportion are high-rated shows? Average-rated? Low-rated?

2. What proportion are proven, returning shows vs. new programs?

3. Do recommended programs complement the target's lifestyle and the ad message?

4. Were engagement metrics used to prioritize program selection?

Platform extensions:

1. Are there digital and/or emerging-media extensions of the buys?

2. Is there research built into the buys to track performance beyond simple audience measurement?
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