Scatter Market Seeing an Uptick

Oct 25, 2004  •  Post A Comment

The TV advertising scatter market has been showing signs of life in the past few weeks.

“We’ve been seeing pretty decent activity week to week, so we’re pretty encouraged,” said Mel Berning, executive VP, ad sales, for A&E Networks. “I’m not going to tell you there’s a lot of strength out there and that there’s a lot more money than anyone knows what to do with. That’s certainly not the case. But I think there are a couple of categories that are spending, and it’s pretty broad.”

Ad sales executives said that marketers including America Online, Nokia and Netflix have been buying commercials on broadcast and cable.

Ad buyers report, however, that there is a great deal of inventory available, and that prices are hovering around their upfront levels.

“It was quiet early on, but we’re seeing money come back in,” said Jon Nesvig, president of sales for Fox Broadcasting. “Obviously, you’ve got someone like ABC that didn’t sell much [in the upfront] and has a couple of hot shows. I think it’s benefiting them.”

AOL, which is reportedly spending $30 million in the fourth quarter, bought time during some of those ABC shows, according to Richard Taylor, senior VP, brand marketing, at AOL.

“We typically don’t spend all of our dollars in the upfront, so it’s not uncommon for us to go out in the scatter market,” Mr. Taylor said. “We particularly wanted to heavy up during this quarter because we have a new brand campaign that we’ve launched.”

In addition to ABC, AOL bought ad time during the last two games of the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees series on Fox, and on a range of cable networks.

“A lot of the cable networks are real close to making their budgets,” Mr. Berning said, adding that both A&E and History Channel are ahead of last year’s revenue total. He said A&E is benefiting from the younger viewership coming to its newer shows and that movie companies, retailers and automakers are buying A&E to reach them.

David Levy, president, entertainment sales and marketing for Turner Broadcasting, said the scatter market “has moved from low to steady. “

CPMs are up from upfront by low single digits, and with cable networks selling so much inventory during the upfront, inventory is starting to tighten up, he said. He expects to see a lift from the movie business in November.