06/05/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Will Positive Upfront Prospects Depress Network Investments in Innovation?

"Media companies have traditionally not been viewed as marketing partners by advertisers or their agencies. Rather they have been perceived as commodities designed to deliver a message as inexpensively as possible to a particular audience. Media sales representatives are not typically challenged to develop new and creative means of addressing a client's specific marketing needs."

Last week's meeting between Allstate Insurance and several media vendors, along with executives from agency Leo Burnett and media agency Starcom, led me back to the above quote from my 1993 book Adbashing: Surviving the Attacks on Advertising.

Is the traditional relationship between advertisers and media vendors, which has not changed significantly in the past two -- perhaps even five -- decades, suddenly being restructured? Past meetings such as the one organized by Allstate to share details and insights on its marketing strategies in hopes media suppliers would develop unique and customized opportunities, have typically resulted in disappointment on both sides. But even as procurement executives gain more influence in the media buying process, marketers are also reaching out in hopes of gaining proprietary advantages in their dealings with media companies. In this week's subscriber-only report, I review the status of the marketer/agency/media vendor relationship and explain why the looming network-TV Upfront marketplace may be a defining moment in the history of the industry.

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