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May 24, 2016

The whirlwind Upfront/NewFront presentation season just wrapped up, and as always, it was filled with celebrities, spectacles, and announcements (and pronouncements) of all kinds. There's a lot to learn from the largest advertising medium (digital isn't expected to surpass TV until 2017, as eMarketer notes). Here are some takeaways that are particularly thought-provoking for mobile advertising.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND ARE KEY
Pretty much everyone, including the Hollywood Reporter, agrees that this will be the strongest TV ad sales market in years. Here's why: Primetime ratings continue to fall for both broadcast and cable, and broadcast primetime viewership among adults 18–49 is down 12 percent this quarter,Media Daily News points out. That's quite a dip in supply.

The scatter market has been strong, with reports of marketers paying an estimated 6 percent premium for ad spots from major networks in Q1. Nobody wants to be stuck buying last-minute with that sort of premium.

All of the digital industry stress about bots and ad blockers has led some advertisers to move money back from digital and into the television market, the Wall Street Journal notes. All of this means it will be a busy June as marketers and sellers fight to secure advantages, due to the simple principle of supply and demand.

THE NEWFRONTS AREN'T NEW ANYMORE
Streaming video is no longer "new" and is a now a "must have." This led to many NewFront presentations emphasizing their bleeding-edge-ness. They moved beyond streaming to mobile, live video, and virtual reality, making sure marketers knew they were forward-thinking (even if they were left wondering what to do with these trends).

As Adweek notes, the networks took their fighting gloves off, with lots of counterclaims about time spent and effectiveness, MediaPost adds.Variety reported on the first-ever NBCUniversal combined upfront. Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising sales and client partnerships, pushed back on the stats thrown out during the NewFronts, as Adweek notes, claiming that "the average American spends seven times as many hours watching television as they do on Facebook." ESPN poked fun at online video's viewability concerns by having SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne enter through a half-open trapdoor—attempting to illustrate the point that consumers may not see the entire ad in online video, according to theLA Times. ABC's sales president, Geri Wang, was more nuanced, highlighting research commissioned from Accenture Strategy on the return of investment of various types of video, quoted in Adweek as saying, "Long form beats short form by a factor of more than 1.5 times...overall, it drives the highest ROI." Those are fighting words on Madison Avenue.

THERE'S NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
The NewFronts unveiled lots of strong content, and an equally strong focus on partnerships to compete with television, says Adweek. While some touted measurement partnerships, pretty much everyone emphasized how well they play with social media. Hearst featured their partnerships with Snapchat and Facebook Live, and National Geographic unveiled a major partnership and video series with Instagram, as Adweek reports.

The broadcast networks had plenty of partnerships to highlight, too. NBCU, despite their strong claims about online video, promoted alliances with Vox Media and Buzzfeed as "busting through those walls that divide linear and digital," Yaccarino told Adweek. Univision announced both a deal with AOL for programmatic buying and, as the LA Times reports, a major programming deal with Netflix. Together, we are stronger, indeed.

QUALITY CONSUMER EXPERIENCE MATTERS
My favorite takeaway was that ad inventory quality can be linked to effectiveness. Pretty much every presentation touted the quality of their content, implying that their passionate connection with their audience would lead to better advertiser results. This was driven home in a dramatic way by a plea for partnership from Turner ad sales president, Donna Speciale, as she talked about the network's decision to cut commercial loads. "The consumer experience must come first," she is quoted as saying in MediaPost, "We're dedicated to keeping our content bold, engaging, and less cluttered."

"Research has shown that with reduced commercial loads, consumers' intent to purchase is dramatically higher," she went on, "Now we need you, the advertising community, to support these moves." Broadcasting & Cable notes that their upfront mantra is "fewer ads means better content."

They're being joined by several other partners, like National Geographic and Viacom, who have pledged to reduce ad loads. As those of us in digital media debate what to do about ad loads and blockers, there's a great parallel here. If fewer—and better—ads lead to higher user engagement with both content and advertising, won't we all get what we want? Let's see if an old medium can teach our new-ish one some helpful tricks.
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