As the upfront TV season begins, automakers are predicting neither increased automotive spending nor increased rates from the networks.
During the upfront season, which begins in late spring, advertisers negotiate with TV networks and bid for rights to secure commercial time on desired programs. The upfront season can be important to automakers because within commercial segments in a network program, only one can be automotive.
When it comes to the upfront season, auto marketers compete in "a marketplace within a marketplace," says Mark Kaline, global media manager at Ford Motor Co. "Generally speaking, in most cases we and our competitors are after the same programming," which tend to be the top-rated shows.
Many automakers spent less in the upfront market last year, instead opting to buy whatever commercial time was available during the year, known as the scatter market.
During last year's upfront selling season, Ford Motor spent 30 percent less across its brands but spent some $75 million in the scatter market, which returned it to normal levels.
Of the $1.1 billion Ford spent last year in measured media, $284 million was on broadcast TV networks and $94 million was on cable networks, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Kaline predicts some automakers are likely to hold back ad dollars from this spring's upfront for other advertising initiatives later, but he did not say whether Ford would do so.