Six Key Trends as Upfront, NewFront Blend Into a Giant Play for Video Ad Dollars

Who Will Come Out on Top in the Negotiations?

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Upfront season is becoming increasingly complex amid the addition of a wide array of competing video alternatives, such as tablets and online streaming. As the conversation around traditional TV continues to change at a rapid pace and the influx of digital media shakes up the industry, the traditional TV upfront and premium Digital NewFronts have blended into one major, cohesive play for advertising spend.

A number of key elements will shape the outcomes of this year's negotiations:

The Multi-Screen Space Leads the Conversation. While we're still hearing a lot of chatter around social TV, the multi-screen space will drive the conversation. Co-viewing behavior is exploding, and the industry will start seeing more advertisers market apps that coincide with TV shows and target consumers across the multiple devices in their hands.

Fluid Deals Continue to Expand. Fluid deals will continue to expand this year, as advertisers acknowledge that usage within the digital space is growing rapidly. Combining broadcast and digital allows more impressions to be delivered across second and third devices, where target audiences are consuming the most media. The major networks are already using this unified selling approach and eventually the entire industry will have to adapt this model to keep up with evolving audience behavior.

Broadcast Media Remains at the Core. While advertisers are testing the waters with social TV and second-screen activity, they are not making decisions based on these alone. Interactivity between consumers and TV shows is still relatively low. Broadcast media will remain the foundation of advertisers' media plans, and social TV and multi-screen experiences will support it, driving deeper consumer engagement and more customization.

Video on Demand Regains Momentum. Once considered the industry's odd stepchild, we will see video on demand regain momentum in the industry and among viewers. According to a report by the TV-measurement company, Rentrak, viewing of free-on-demand TV content increased over 40 percent in the past year. With consumers increasingly tuning into premium content through video on demand, advertisers are being forced to embrace this shift in behavior and networks are monetizing it. Big broadcast and cable networks will increasingly provide their strongest programming to video-on-demand platforms.

Affluent Consumers Are Shying Away from Prime-Time TV. At first, it seemed that affluent audiences were shying away from prime-time TV because of the introduction of the DVR. While DVR did play a role over the past few years, it's now plateauing and no longer the only reason for the slight prime-time viewership decline. Now that both cable and alternative streaming platforms are delivering premium content that affluent consumers are seeking, affluent audiences are shifting their attention to on-demand solutions such as Xbox, Netflix and Crackle.

Mobile Becomes A Dominant Player. Media consumption used to be comprised mainly of broadcast and online, but this year, mobile will play a larger role, as consumption continues to increase and it is increasingly being programmed to complement TV. Google reported that 77% of TV viewers watch programs with a device in hand, which is challenging marketers to find ways to create compelling branded content that moves seamlessly across multiple screens. As Twitter begins to develop deeper relationships with networks, the mobile device will easily become the preferred secondary device.

Both traditional and digital advertisers are going to have to take risks to reach current and potential target audiences. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and who will come out winning over the next few weeks.

Kirsten Atkinson is Media Director, Team One.
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