TV ad sales execs bracing for third-quarter cancellations: Ad Age TV Pivot
TV advertisers are starting to take advantage of options to cancel their prior ad commitments. Unsurprisingly, it appears more marketers than usual are pulling back some of the spending they had previously planned, as they grapple with uncertainty amid the pandemic.
To hear the sales and media buying leaders tell it on day two of Ad Age’s TV Pivot virtual event Wednesday, the situation is a “mixed bag”: some ad partners are canceling their commitments outright, others are looking to expand their contracts, and almost all are scrambling to buy time to mull their strategies.
“Since I’ve sat on both sides of the table, I’ve never seen options like this, but I’ve also never seen anything like this in my career—I don’t think any of us have. There are no winners, quite frankly, during this pandemic; there’s just to what level of loss are you having,” said Catherine Sullivan, chief investment officer, North America, Omnicom Media Group.
“We have people who are canceling, we have very few people firming up, and we have some who are doing sort of half of their cancelations,” said Dani Benowitz, president, U.S., Magna Global.
Steve Mandala, president of ad sales and marketing at Univision, said, “We’ve got a lot of advertisers who are asking for additional time to make decisions. As it looks right now, [it’s] a little bit below what we anticipated and what we projected, but I don’t think we’ve seen the full story there yet. I expect that by the end of May we’ll have a very good read on it.”
Kim Kelleher, president of commercial revenue and partnerships at AMC Networks, also expects to have a better handle on how the third-quarter is pacing within a few weeks. “Several partners have exercised options; several partners have asked for more time so they can review their strategies,” she said.
Laura Molen, co-president of advertising sales and partnerships at NBCUniversal remains philosophical. “We’re in an uncertain time and everyone’s businesses are challenged in all sorts of ways” she said. “We’re speaking to marketers, and there are some that need to take their inventory and give it back, but we plan for that every single year.”
The CW Network, however, is seeing its options come in as expected pre-pandemic, according to Rob Tuck, exec VP, national sales. “I think we’re tracking along the lines we had assumed,” he said.