The Art Of The Sell? It's In The Art Of The Buy

Affectionately known to industry folks as the upfronts, there will be one viewpoint governing all discussions for the upcoming radio and television program planning season: provable ROI is the new ROI.

Currencies used to afford such a measurement will remain consistent. Age, gender and location are tried and true audience indicators, and brand advertisers shouldn't need to fuss over more than that.

Sure, everyone likes to talk ROI, but few can actually prove it. Marketers, no matter the background (direct response, digital, broadcast, out-of-home), may fail to accurately validate audience precision, and inevitably be missing opportunities.

If you're wondering if this means you should always be thinking programmatic, the answer is no.

Programmatic buying in radio and television won't happen this season, and likely not for many seasons to come. Programmatic, the automated buying of digital media, has its place in your marketing mix, but shouldn't serve as the springboard for all activity. In fact, some experts warn the machine-based buying tool belongs nowhere near television and radio. This is likely due to broadcast audiences being highly sensitive to brand exposure, and less so in fleeting digital micro-moments. The human element in making precise decisions at critical moments, scrutinizing space and opportunity with a brand's best interests and budget in mind is critical.

In the United States, Viacom predicts 85% of upfront deals this year will include data in some capacity; CBS expects that 1% of ad revenue this year will come from deals pegged to non-traditional guarantees. Most recently, Saturday Night Live is the first television show to announce reduced commercial loads, offsetting the decline in the number of spots with the addition of more sponsored content within the show.

How will this impact advertisers?

For starters, this should come as no surprise. Reducing commercial loads and increasing in-show sponsored content falls directly in line with industry objectives to reduce commercial clutter to give viewers an enhanced viewing experience and advertisers better results. While SNL's approach is expected to increase gains in ad recall and purchase intent, it is likely these "commercials within, and part of, shows" will roll out via live-to-air programming only, at least successfully and without blowing a year's budget in 30 seconds.

The end goal, really, is to fix problems in audience targeting, where viewers are overexposed to and fatigued by promotional messages. Whether for in-show sponsored content or traditional commercials, modern marketing calls for the creation of engaging ad formats, served to the right people and in the precisely right way.

This is why the human element matters so much in media buying. Like today's investor, the modern media buyer is more sophisticated than ever, guided by audience sentiment and an unmistakable understanding of the brand business – and budget – to make the best decisions. This includes deploying strategies based on broad reach versus custom content, full versus self versus managed service, TV and radio convergence with mobile, and understanding marketplace conversion paths.

Our prediction for this year? Media buyers with a strong grip on these deployment strategies, lest we mention Netflix's content tourism crackdown and depreciating values, will make the art of the buy at this year's upfronts more chill than ever.

- Ed Crain, President of Kingstar Media

This article originally appeared on Marketing Daily.