“When advertisers can’t predict what’s going to happen in July, it’s hard to make substantial commitments for the rest of the year,” said Christian Juhl, global chief executive of GroupM. “The underlying economic understanding just isn’t in place right now for people to make a good bet.”
The reluctance to lock in long-term contracts has already leads to calls for television networks to adjust the way they sell advertising space during the broadcast year, which begins in October. This week, when previewing programs during their Newfront presentations, many digital platforms tried to remove uncertainty by promising performance guarantees and flexibility in contracts.
Roku has offered customers a range of options, including 14-day cancellations and the ability to quickly remove ads from areas where they are no longer relevant (for example, if local stay-at-home guidelines change).
“The beauty of digital has always been flexibility and fluidity; unlike linear television, where you commit to one year and have limited flexibility, there is much more agility in the digital ecosystem, “said David Cohen, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau professional group, who organizes the Newfronts.
But this year, he said, “regardless of the type of media, there will be no global appetite to commit to a long-term deal without the opportunity to optimize or cancel based on company performance. “
The presentations also promoted technology that would allow viewers to shop directly from advertisements. By using QR codes and push notifications on smartphones, Hulu said, viewers will be able to buy directly from companies like Sweetgreen and TheRealReal through ads made using its new GatewayGo format. Condé Nast’s Prime Shoppable technology will be featured in Vogue and GQ’s online programs. “The Drop”, a Snapchat show, will feature fashion collaborations that viewers can buy while watching.
More than 12,500 people signed up for the NewFront, which ended Friday afternoon with a plea from the event host, comedian Scott Rogowsky. “If you are a brand, don’t be afraid,” he said. “Get up – it’s your time.”
Mike Isaac contributed to the report.