Connected TV

Why You Need a Performance Plan For Upfronts

MNTN and Age Age discuss the new brand strategy

Why You Need a Performance Plan For Upfronts

4 Min Read

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for TV advertisers: upfronts season. But this year feels a little different. Economic anxiety paired with a rapidly evolving industry have brands coming to the table with a performance plan that’s every bit as crucial as locking in favorable deals with bundled media. More than ever, it’s important to come to upfronts with a performance marketing and measurement lens—but what does that even look like? And how can you match (or, let’s be real, outstrip) the strategies of your peers and competitors?

Ali Haeri, Senior Vice President of Marketing at MNTN, recently took to the Ad Age stage to share the marketing strategies brands need for their upfronts approach. You can watch a full recording of “Don’t Fall Behind This Upfronts Season” here. Too busy this week with upfronts mania? Keep reading for a high-level recap.

This Year’s Upfronts is All About Performance

Upfronts season is upon us, and it’s a time that brands are looking to make the most of their budgets – and lock in favorable economics. “But there’s a sobering reality associated with that,” noted Haeri. “We know that if you’re not [a blue chip brand] or working with one of the largest ad agencies, you’re not going to get the best pricing or inventory. That’s just the reality of how this process works for a lot of brands.” This isn’t an indicator you shouldn’t participate in upfronts, Haeri reassured attendees, but it does stress the need for a supplemental strategy built around performance. 

“Right now the economy is wobbly,” he explained—and that’s driving savvy brands to think more seriously about performance. While it seems like brands would always want their marketing to address a performance-related goal, Haeri noted that this wasn’t always top-of-mind for previous upfronts commitments. “We’re here to say that there is room for a performance marketing sensibility as you’re constructing your upfronts approach.”

How CTV Complements a Performance Plan 

Haeri noted that Connected TV’s programmatic approach is more adaptable than the upfronts — and this is what makes a TV performance strategy possible. “When you think of the upfronts, flexibility is not a thing that comes to mind,” Haeri said with a chuckle. “It really is important to have a tool [like CTV] at your disposal to augment what you’re doing at upfronts, like your linear TV buying.”

Using CTV to achieve performance marketing outcomes is becoming increasingly popular; Heari referenced a recent MNTN and Advertising Week poll that found that 64% of marketers view CTV as a performance marketing platform. Compared to an upfront buy, performance buys on CTV tend to perform best when they’re done programmatically, using real-time data. This lets campaigns claim the most effective inventory available. 

Branding, Meet Performance 

One concept that Haeri wanted to stress during the presentation was brand meeting performance. “Performance TV, as we’ve coined the term, is performance-driven Connected television advertising,” said Heari. “It’s been interesting to see the development of [CTV advertising] and to see how advertisers have utilized it. With the proliferation of CTV and MNTN Performance TV, brand marketers have changed their strategies thanks to the information that they have available.”

Haeri elaborated further on how performance television is changing advertising mentalities. “In the case of a Performance TV ad buy, it’s still a TV ad unit — you still have that canvas of a 30-second or 15-second ad unit to get your message out. But now you have the added ability to precisely target your audience and segment your messaging on the front end, and then on the back side you have the granular reporting that provides visit and conversion rates attached to your TV campaigns.” Haeri noted that not only do these capabilities help to optimize TV ads toward specific goals, they can inform brand marketers and influence the creative by providing data-driven insights on what works.

So What Makes a Good Performance Plan?

This is just scratching the surface of the conversation Haeri had with Advertising Age. Catch the full presentation to learn more, including a case study from a national advertiser and tips for creating a performance plan that works.