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2022 NBCUniversal Upfront in New York City. Photo by Getty

The Upfronts Model Isn’t Dead Yet

Photo: 2022 NBCUniversal Upfront in New York City. Photo by Getty

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In “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” King Arthur (played with blustery charm by Graham Chapman) rides across Britain searching for knights to join his Round Table. Having collected a band of brave (and not-quite-so-brave) knights, he returns to Camelot, stops to take in to the view, and then remembers it is full of singing and dancing and bacchanalian feasting. He rethinks entering the castle, telling his men, “Well, on second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”

Advertisers and media buyers approaching this year’s TV upfront presentations seem to have had second thoughts as well. They came “armed with data about their most likely customer,” in the words of Variety’s Brian Steinberg, and expected to be wooed by talk of shoppable ads and new measurement metrics (or as ad tech companies like to refer to them, new “currencies”). Instead of exclusive audience insights, they got Jimmy Fallon roasting CNN+.

Some, like Jeff Green, CEO of digital media–buying platform The Trade Desk, argue that Q1 2022 could be the tipping point in the ad industry’s long shift to software-driven marketplaces over in-person deal making. New inventory from ad-supported versions of Disney+ and Netflix will “add pressure to all content owners to accelerate the move to data-driven buying and selling and finding ways to make the most competitive consumer experience”—or so goes the argument.

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