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By Parker Herren | April 09, 2024

Continued contraction of spend in TV as well as upticks in digital media persist

The 2023 upfront was defined by the convergence of numerous hardships: economic uncertainty, the Hollywood strikes and continued questions about growth in streaming. Over the summer months, buyers described a longer-than-usual slog of negotiations and pricing rollbacks in the range of 5% across the TV market.

While some are optimistic about a rebound in this year’s TV spend, many see similar trends of declines heading into a month of celebrity- and cocktail-filled presentations during the upfront and NewFronts weeks. Along with predictions around continued declines in spending on linear TV inventory, buyers foresee increased adoption of addressable advertising, lower pricing in streaming and new opportunities to further meld the worlds of TV, streaming and digital media.

As the 2024 upfront schmooze-a-thon approaches, Ad Age asked five media buyers their predictions for this year’s market and what clients are looking for ahead of negotiations.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Dani Benowitz, U.S. and global president, Magna: This year’s upfront will see a continuing shift of dollars out of linear into alternative video choices, especially streaming and CTV. There is an abundance of quality content with ad-supported streaming, as well as available audiences within FAST channels.

Clients are looking for ways to optimize their upfront spend while still having the flexibility they need to make their dollars work hardest for them. This can include the ability to move around within a partner’s portfolio without penalty and make changes as close to the campaign start as possible.

Geoff Calabrese, chief investment officer, Omnicom Media Group North America: Early expectation is that dollars will be highly concentrated in sports, CTV and data-driven linear. We would expect massive declines to continue across traditional linear entertainment. This would lead to a flat or even down market requiring increased flexibility and transparency for those who want to win.

Matt Sweeney, chief investment officer, GroupM U.S.: As we approach the upfront, we can expect to see continued transformation and more upside for clients. It’s critically important for advertisers to engage audiences and deliver attributable business outcomes in a way that combines brand and performance advertising. Many are getting to work on interoperable solutions and integrations, but we need to get to a place where there is extensive, industrywide interoperability so it’s easier for brands to seamlessly buy advertising.

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