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WarnerMedia’s Upfront Driven By Digital Video, Not Traditional TV

Demand for digital advertising drove the bulk of demand for WarnerMedia’s “upfront” sales efforts, according to a person familiar with the matter, suggesting Madison Avenue is turning more avidly to some of the industry’s most traditional providers for the newest forms of video marketing even as they ponder how much to spend on traditional TV.

The company, making outreach to advertisers for the first time since being purchased by AT&T, saw double-digit increases in spending on such venues as video-on-demand and broadband video, this person said. But advertisers spent approximately the same amount on traditional linear TV as they did last year.

WarnerMedia was selling ad commitments for such assets as CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, along with some syndication ads for Warner Brothers productions. HBO’s programs do not include advertising. The company’s TV unit, formerly known as Turner, won $1.1 billion in advertising in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $1.3 billion in advertising in the first quarter of 2019.

Advertisers increased the amount of commitments placed on so-called “audience buying,” or schedules of commercials designed to reach more specific kinds of consumers, such as first-time car buyers or expectant mothers. The company saw double the amount of investment year-over-year, this person said.

The company expects its volume of advance ad commitments to be in line with the rest of the TV market, this person said. Executives on both sides of this year’s haggle suggest volume overall may be up around 5%.

 

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