The 2018 television Upfront “is a marketplace with more moving parts than ever,” says media agency veteran Chris Geraci. Still, the age-old dynamics between supply and demand for linear TV advertising inventory endure.
Overall, this year’s Upfront is “not all that different from a marketplace that’s reflective of a relatively healthy economic backdrop,” Geraci, who is President of National Video Investment at OMD, says in this interview conducted by OMD’s Ben Winkler at the recent Beet Retreat in the City. “There is a significant amount of pressure in certain areas, mostly due to supply dynamics in linear television and fragmented viewership, combined with some increased spending from advertisers that rely heavily on television,” says Geraci.
He pinpoints that reliance in large part as relating to older-skewing brands for which “television is still really the best place, the most fertile hunting ground.”
Asked about efforts by providers like Fox and NBCUniversal to roll out reduced ad-load offerings, Geraci responds, “Time will tell.”
While there are potential positives in making the linear TV experience more like what viewers can get with digital offerings, reducing commercial load comes with a big caveat. “When you restrict supply, there are going to be pricing issues, and we get that,” Geraci explains. “The astute buyer tries to pay the lower price and we’re making efforts in that regard.”
Asked by Winkler about the efforts by Fox and NBCU, Geraci says, “I don’t know that we’re there yet in terms of finding that price-value relationship, for at least the two being discussed now.”
Looking ahead, Geraci outlines his desired outcome. “Our hope is that over time, if the expectation is that the viewing experience is better, more people will interact with the programming, ratings will ultimately increase. That’s the hope is that if you improve the experience you’re going to ultimately further down the road build back supply simply by higher ratings of at last live or slightly delayed commercial television. That’s sort of the holy grail.”
As for his thoughts on OpenAP, the audience targeting consortium started by Fox, Turner and Viacom that both NBCU and Univision recently joined, Geraci calls it “sort of common ground if you will for the optimization systems. If you can bring standardization to anything that is not standardized, in general you create more interchangeability in the marketplace and basically a more level playing field, and you allow the advertiser to make better decisions and selections.”
Geraci notes that OpenAP is for planning using common audience target definitions across networks but not for actual purchasing of inventory. So buyers are still “forced to optimize within just their set of offerings. It’s not the completely fluid situation that we’d like to see.”
One thing that has changed for the better over the decades that Geraci has experienced the back and forth of Upfront dealings is the temperament. He says there’s “more of a sense of fair play I think nowadays than I think than there was in the earlier times.”
This video was produced at the Beet Retreat in City & Town Hall on June 6, 2018 in New York City. The event and video series are presented by LiveRamp, TiVo, true[X] and 605. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.