In Depth

GroupM Striking Upfront Agreements With Networks to Use C7 -- Big Shift to Paying for Viewing Up to a Week Later Instead of Only Three Days

By Jeanine Poggi
Advertising Age

GroupM is striking agreements with broadcasters to do business on a C7 basis for its clients during upfronts, according to multiple people familiar with the talks. Actual commitments for ad time aren't the focus; instead the parties are laying groundwork to do deals that consider commercial ratings over the course of a week instead of the current industry standard of three days.

GroupM, the powerful media buying division of WPP Group, has done select C7 deals in the past for specific clients, but these agreements will be broader and will apply to all of its clients.

Fox and CBS confirmed they have each struck agreements with a major agency to do business on a C7 basis, but declined to identify the agency.

NBCUniversal has struck a similar agreement with Group M, according to people familiar with the situation. An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.

ABC declined to comment.

A GroupM spokeswoman declined to comment.

TV networks have been pushing to get paid for advertising viewed within seven days after a program airs, but buyers have been slow to embrace the idea of paying for impressions they currently get for free. The GroupM agreements would be the most broad-reaching agreements to date for C7.

CBS CEO Les Moonves has been among the most vocal in pushing for C7 deals. At a conference in March, Mr. Moonves said, "Oh, I think it's inevitable [C7] becomes the norm. I think more and more of it will happen this upfront. How much? We already have a couple of C7 deals operating right now. The sooner the better, obviously, for us. It's going to increase quite a bit by this upfront. Whether it becomes the norm, quote-unquote, I'm not sure, but within -- it won't be long."

Fox's president of ad sales, Toby Byrne, emphasized the network's interest in shifting to C7 at its upfront presentation in May. "Now, in order for us to continue to make massive investments into our quality entertainment programming, we need to recognize the evolution of the media landscape and with so much of our audience choosing to watch on their own schedule, our business needs to evolve as well," Mr. Byrne said then. "I think you can see where I'm going .... For our business today and for tomorrow, we need to have a meaningful discussion about C7."

The agreements will apply to broadcast entertainment prime time only, according to people familiar with the situation.