Advertisers are pushing for greater flexibility from their media partners as effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy pressures them to be more resourceful with their spending. That dynamic is disrupting this year’s network upfront advertising marketplace, magnifying calls for changes to the way media outlets sell commercial time.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), a trade group for marketers and their agencies, last month demanded that TV networks shift the marketplace to a calendar year, among other requests.

Omnicom Media Group’s Sal Candela is seeing the transformation of the media marketplace up close as president of enterprise partnerships at the agency.

“The real change shouldn’t be just about the timing of the upfronts. It should be about the how and why the upfront changes to really better the industry,” he said in Beet TV’s latest installment of the “Trust in Partnership in a Time of Change” series presented by WarnerMedia and Xandr.

Advertisers are demanding from linear TV the same kind of flexibility they experience on digital platforms, including more choices in dayparts, ad formats, cancellation options, commitments and the ability buy programmatically. Those demands underlie a shift from linear TV to over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) platforms, he said.

“The ability to connect with consumers through video, whether that is a connected television, an over-the-top service, a full-episode player — the technology is there,” he said. “If we can get there is this year’s upfront, that would be a tremendous push forward in terms of how marketers are looking to reach consumers.”

AVOD Is Promising

Candela sees tremendous promise in ad-based video-on-demand (AVOD) channels that give marketers a chance to reach consumers who are willing to see commercials in exchange for free programming.

The AVOD market has grown more crowded in recent years as traditional media companies look to compete with services like Roku that was an early entrant into video streaming. Before its merger with CBS was completed, Viacom this year bought Pluto TV for $340 million, while Fox acquired Tubi for $440 million and Comcast snapped up Xumo for an undisclosed sum.

“The real benefit of AVOD is that we go back to a great exchange for free content in exchange for advertising,” Candela said. “There’s still room in the marketplace for consumers to be able to have a free experience, to watch great content and to be able to have marketers advertise to them in a very personalized and customized way.”

This video is part of a series titled Trust in Partnership in a Time of Change presented by WarnerMedia. Please visit this page for additional segments from the series.