Ad Buyers Face Strike Aftermath

Feb 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

As original scripted series return to the broadcast networks, media buyers will be watching closely to make sure their clients get spots in the programming they bought in last year’s upfront.
Over the past few months, as fresh episodes of series have vanished due to the Writers Guild of America strike, buyers have been working to get their clients in appropriate replacement programming. The goal was to make sure that commercials are still reaching the number of viewers the networks guaranteed. Now buyers mostly will be returning to their original plans.
“Everybody’s scrambling now. Everyone’s trying to figure out what the schedules are going to be,” said Steve Lanzano, chief operating officer of media agency PHD U.S.
“Before, after and during the strike, we really look to keep the integrity intact on what was bought in the upfront. That hasn’t really changed,” said Ed Gentner, senior VP and group director at MediaVest. “The bottom line is you want to make sure that, when you look at your schedule as a whole, you are getting what you paid for and the integrity is intact.”
When a high-rated show, such as ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” unexpectedly went into reruns, ad buyers had to negotiate adjustments because of the strike. In some cases, they needed commercials in other shows to make up for viewer shortfalls. In other cases, clients wanted to be in different shows.
For shows returning to the airwaves, advertisers who originally had ad units in a program presumably would still have them, Mr. Gentner said, although he noted it’s not always so clear-cut.
Originals Airing Later
Network executives said that because of the strike, there may actually be more original episodes of series airing in April and May than was contemplated during upfront negotiations.
Most of the spots in those original episodes will go to advertisers who scheduled ads in what they thought were reruns, said Mike Shaw, president of sales and marketing, ABC.
“Those are shows we already sold,” he said.
In some cases, those extra originals may give advertisers extra ratings points, representing a windfall. In other cases they may reduce the number of make-goods the networks owe advertisers because ratings have been down this season. That drop is partly due to the strike and partly due to the ongoing audience erosion the networks have been facing.
Another factor will be whether viewers will return to the networks when the original episodes of series return.
“We are going to have to revise our estimates given the disrupted and highly altered schedule,” said Shari Brill, VP of programming at media buyer Carat. “The landscape is very different versus what was announced last May.”
But an advertiser that pinned its hopes to a big audience in the finale of “Desperate Housewives” may be in luck.
“The show has experienced dramatic live audience falloff versus the prior year, which has nothing to do with the strike,” Ms. Brill said. “Once the show resumes, fans will be back. The show was very strong creatively until it was forced into hiatus.”


  1. I never realized how much effect a commercial had on a show. It’s interesting to think that just because of those pesky commercials seasons will be extended. In a way, that’s great for all the viewers and workers, yet it worries me because as a season drags on, it looses its affect. So, I guess this season will make or break a show. Hopefully with the extension of seasons shows like Desperate Housewives or Lost, which have had several season already, won’t loose their creative and fun touch with viewers.

  2. As an outsider looking in, the answer to all this scrambling seems to be quite obvious…why don’t the advertisers “go with the flow” and have a reality show of their own. A couple of years ago I thought of a game show on which viewers (YouTubers and DVR divas alike) would create ads for their favorite products. These commercials would be voted on by the audience and whichever creator wins the most votes, s/he gets a chance to create an ad for superbowl. With each week featuring a different product, advertisers would be reaching their audience in a fun (& family-friendly) way and maybe wouldn’t have to worry about clinging on to their audience.

  3. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

  4. Good day. First of all – nice blog! Secondly this information was also good and interesting to read, but I don’t think everything you have said is completely true. I will need to google about few things you have mentioned in your artcile to make sure. But anyway thanks for the great effort and good luck on writing other articles. P.S sorry for bad English, I aren’t English native speaker.

  5. Great blog!! You should start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned 🙂

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