Starcom: Make Upfront Cross-Platform

The CEO of Starcom, one of the most powerful and forward-thinking of media agency networks, all but called for the end of the upfront. AdAge reports John Muszynski,said “the upfront must transform from a TV upfront to a video upfront.”

It’s the first time agencies have talked of morphing the upfront into something bigger than one channel. It was always a versus game before. Now that the networks have massive digital holdings — and this year really is the first time that’s happened — perhaps there’s a good reason to make the party cross-platform. But then what of Yahoo! and Google? What of CNET and YouTube and the other huge Web platforms that are unaffiliated with the boob tube? Will they get to play too?

Anyway, that’ll be interesting to see but somewhat beside the point in the Web v. TV battle for ad dollars. At the end of the upfront, nobody’s going to know whether television has sustained real damage. The moment of truth will be at the end of the year, when the scatter market has played itself out. Last year, digital boosters cheered when the upfront sank, but scatter buys were very strong and overall TV spending wound up higher than it was in 2004.

So all digital media people, please hold the confetti until December/January.

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