- May 16, 2024
Steve Bagdasarian
Steve Bagdasarian
Chief Commercial Officer
Tara Gotch
Tara Gotch
Executive Vice President, Commercial

While the Upfront season is in full swing, the focus of this pivotal media-buying event is undergoing a material evolution. Once dominated by content sizzle reels focused solely on linear TV, the Upfronts are dramatically shifting to better reflect audience convergence across platforms and the new cross-screen media landscape. Amazon, YouTube and Netflix are now doing Upfront presentations along with the major network groups.

While the Newfronts are concurrently rising in prominence, instead of replacing the Upfronts, they are validating the need to optimize streaming and digital platforms against traditional channels to achieve total audience reach and drive performance. This represents a shift not just in format but a strategic pivot in how media is planned, exchanged, activated, and measured.

A recent Digiday survey*, sponsored by Disney, provides insights into how marketers are adjusting their strategies in response to these changes. The survey indicates a significant increase in upfront spending, with 51% of brand, retailer, and agency professionals planning to invest in this year's Upfronts, up from 37% in 2023. However, there's a notable shift in spending priorities, with a higher proportion of marketers favoring streaming platforms in addition to traditional TV networks.

This data underscores the need for advertisers to adopt flexible and responsive media buying strategies that accommodate the rapid growth of digital consumption.

It’s also a key reason why the survey ranked Comscore as the second-chosen measurement provider of brand, retailer and agency professionals, with 46% of marketers saying they will support Comscore as currency during this year’s Upfront event. This finding reflects Comscore’s strengths in providing the unified measurement and cross-platform methodology the marketplace is demanding.

Embracing Multiple Currencies

Modern media measurement has seen major disruption, giving the marketplace the confidence to use multiple currencies to prove their investments in ways that were not possible in previous years.

This year's Upfront season is more than a buying event - it represents a pivotal moment for the industry to embrace a more holistic measurement framework that reflects not only the diverse ways audiences consume media today but also how media performs across channels.

Comscore has recently undergone a rigorous MRC accreditation process, the result of which will help media companies decide who is credible when determining transactability. We are now the only measurement provider with both MRC accreditation and JIC certification for audience measurement. This was an exhaustive process, but we believe this level of transparency and accountability is warranted when the industry is transacting on billions of dollars.

As a leader in cross-channel measurement, Comscore is dedicated to supporting its clients through the transition to a multi-currency ecosystem, providing the tools and insights needed to navigate the complexities of fragmented modern media effectively.

In the context of the Upfront season, the modern media landscape requires precise insights beyond the currency transactions to determine effective distribution strategies across platforms and channels. When considering how to drive viewers to a piece of content, programmers need to consider not just who but where key audiences are, including the best way to premiere a show for example. How should programmers approach windowing? Should a show launch on a broadcast/cable network or streaming platform, with exclusive sneak peaks, or simulcast across viewing channels? Broadcasters today are reinventing their distribution strategies, and this is where the complete measurement framework we offer removes the guesswork with end-to-end solutions.

A Holistic Framework

By integrating data from various sources into a single framework, Comscore empowers advertisers and media companies to make informed decisions across channels, optimize their media spend, and tailor their content strategies on a singular framework. As an independent partner that simplifies the complexity inherent in today's media ecosystem, enhancing the ability to deliver targeted, effective advertising that resonates across all channels.

Comscore’s cross-platform Comscore Campaign Ratings (CCR) enable accurate, real-time insights into campaign performance across diverse channels. This empowers media companies to make informed decisions, optimize media spend, and achieve unparalleled reach and engagement in a fragmented modern media environment. With CCR, the industry can confidently transition to a more integrated and effective media strategy, fully harnessing the potential of a holistic measurement approach.

With the growth in streaming capturing more attention, advertisers and media buyers can’t afford to focus on any single platform in today’s fragmented landscape. Amidst the rise of ad-supported tiers and industry noise about the demise of linear TV, one unquestionable truth remains from the measurement side - when it comes to audience reach, linear TV remains unmatched and thus retains a critical place in cross-channel campaigns.

This year's Upfront season has highlighted the need for advertisers and media buyers to integrate their strategies across all platforms — linear TV, streaming, and digital — ensuring that no audience segment is overlooked.

*Source: Tabisz, Julia, “Digiday + Research: How advertisers are approaching spend in the upfront market.” Digiday, May 13, 2024. https://digiday.com/future-of-tv/digiday-research-how-advertisers-are-approaching-spend-in-the-upfront-market/