Will Debate Initiatives to Change TV Ad Buying and Selling Process

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NEW YORK ( -- The two major advertising industry associations are jointly launching a committee to explore options to the annual upfront ad market.

Dubbed the Network Upfront Discussion Group -- or "NUDG" -- the group will hold its first

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meeting on April 29 in New York under the guidance of O. Burtch Drake, American Association of Advertising Agencies, and Bob Liodice, president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.

Calling on the industry
In an announcement released today, the executives put out a call to representatives from the media, advertising agencies, advertisers, associations, and legal counsel to join them.

"We believe that the upfront is an arena that requires continued collaboration and discussion with the networks," Mr. Drake said in the announcement.

The upfront refers to the freewheeling auction that takes place each spring as the TV broadcast networks try to sell between 75% and 80% of their commercial airtime ahead (or "upfront") of the new fall TV season.

The to-do list
First up on the committee's to-do list will be to debate the merits of instituting a daily "closing bell" that will mark the end of negotiations between ad buyers and sellers during the upfront period, which begins in May. David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Group's Carat North America, has been a vocal proponent of the bell. When he spoke last month at the ANA's annual Television Advertising Forum, Mr. Verklin likened the upfront bell to the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

The committee will also address the possibility of moving the upfront to a different month, or creating two half-year selling seasons.

'Dissatisfaction and frustration'
"It is clear, through public and private member comments and via a specific ANA member survey, that there is substantial dissatisfaction and frustration with the current process," Mr. Liodice said. "We believe that, under the boundaries established by legal counsel, the ANA and AAAA can facilitate a constructive discussion of specific issues."

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