Blue Plate Media Tips for Navigating Television Ad Negotiations

May 3, 2011 | When considering buying broadcast media inventory there are two primary options – purchasing “upfront,” meaning broadcast and cable contracts are negotiated early to secure inventory for the following year, or “scatter buying” by playing the market and buying inventory relevant to your company’s needs and budget throughout the year.

Currently, upfront negotiations are taking place for the third and fourth quarters of 2011 and the first and second quarters of 2012.  Cable upfront presentations by Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney and The Hub have begun, with announcements of new projects, programming and cross-platform marketing opportunities to entice sales, according to David Becker, president of Blue Plate Media Services, an affinity partner of the Toy Industry Association (TIA). 

“Upfront negotiations enable advertisers to pool collective dollars across a full year and negotiate media placements at very aggressive rates. They can be a wonderful opportunity to leverage media money for maximum value,” explained Becker.

However, when buying media inventory from upfront buyers or agencies, “be sure you are securing premium inventory that is truly in your best interest – meaning it covers programming that aligns with your brand,” warned Becker.  “Also beware of investing in any media that is in the best interest of the agency selling off inventory. The wrong inventory, even at a great rate, is still the wrong inventory.”

And just as there are advantages to upfront negotiations, there are pros to scatter buying, added Becker. “This option allows companies to pick and choose their broadcast media spots throughout the year based on unique needs and budget.”

Another tip for leveraging media dollars: to maximize “share of voice” (SOV) by pooling budgets with fellow industry members and building cumulative buys across relevant media – TV, online, in-theatre, print and radio.

“The power of a group, fueled by a common goal, helps to take what might be considered a ‘smaller’ spend and convert it into a media spend ‘with muscle,’” said Becker.

This year, the childrens’ television networks are anticipating resurgences in spending from the toy and food categories, as well as robust investments from the studios.  According to the Cable Television Advertising Bureau, the 2010/2011 upfront marked the first time that cable drew even with the broadcast networks, booking $8 billion in advance sales.

Early projections for the 2011/2012 upfront show networks like Nickelodeon up 8%-10% from 2010/2011 on dollar volume; projections also estimate that major networks CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and CW will secure $9.5 billion in 2011/2012 upfront commitments.

Blue Plate Media Services is a full-service media planning and buying agency specializing in connecting with kids and moms.  As an affinity partner of the Toy Industry Association, BPM offers free consultations on media research and smart, efficient, integrated media solutions. For more information, contact Blue Plate Media Services (908-918-0202); or