If marketers succeed in their wish to have their advertising only on certain shows, that seems likely to raise ad pricing on some shows, while pushing it down on others. Which ones would go up and which ones would go down is hard to tell at this point.
Want your ads in CBS's blue-chip "CSI"? Then you'll have to run some in "Harper's Island." Eager to get your message to the devotees of ABC's "Lost"? Then you'll have to buy some time during untested debutantes such as "Cupid."
That's how it's worked for decades. Marketers and their media buyers are forced to agree to TV networks' condition that they take ad positions across entire schedules if they want to be in the hottest shows. Marketers' patience with this system is, however, running out, and many are pushing harder than ever before to buy programs and not networks. Yet in this upfront, the networks will still ask them to once again buy across the board -- and pay a premium to really build their brands into a show's DNA.
"This is going to be the battleground for the next few years," said one senior marketer.
Perhaps Peggy Green, the respected but publicity-averse executive at Publicis Groupe's Zenith media-buying outlet, said it best during a recent industry conference organized by TV Week and Advertising Age: "I care more about the program than the network that it's on."
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