One of the media world’s most stubborn legacies is The Upfront. It’s best known as a way for big advertisers and their agencies to commit “upfront” dollars to networks in exchange for price breaks on the shows and demos they most desire.
We like Upfronts. We like them so much that we make up excuses to stage them all the time. By now we’ve all heard of the Digital Media “New-Fronts,” the fortnight in late spring where we show off cool “programming” and ideas and try for up front commitments. I’m for anything that allows digital media providers to strut their stuff, but…
But can the Upfront concept – a fixed, date-centric marketplace – survive in a world of unlimited “inventory” and constant technological change? Or will Upfronts go the way of “The Fall TV Season,” an event that used to mean something but that is now manufactured to gin up attention from buyers?
Welcome to the age of abundance. Welcome to the Forever Scatter Market.
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I’m not naïve and I understand completely why Upfronts exist. But the vast majority of us would be better served by committing to the skills and strategies needed in a permanent scatter market…. A market in which we must create or own opportunity, find our decision makers and – often – identify the budgets that might fund the things we create.
Scatter is about acting, not waiting. It’s about the broader business or marketing problem, not about the narrow focus of the media plan. It’s not about big showy presentations and product demos, but rather about the intimate, collaborative meeting at the whiteboard. Upfronts are about what will be bought and for how much. Scatter is about how the marketing or storytelling problem gets solved. The Upfront is about the advertising business. Scatter is about business solutions.
Banking on the Upfront is about fighting the last war… a war of fixed battles and well positioned armies….a war that’s perhaps already been won by a handful of superpowers. Scatter is asymmetrical, guerilla engagements….it’s house to house and hand to hand. And we’d all better start honing the strategies and skills we need to compete.
Scatter selling is here. And it’s forever.