ITV slams buyers’ World Cup bungle

ITV has launched a fierce attack on the professionalism of TV buyers after agencies turned their back on cheap airtime during the World Cup, despite the fact that ITV believes they could have saved their clients hundreds of thousands of pounds.

ITV has launched a fierce attack on the professionalism of TV

buyers after agencies turned their back on cheap airtime during the

World Cup, despite the fact that ITV believes they could have saved

their clients hundreds of thousands of pounds.



As viewing of the football hit higher than expected levels over the past

week, the cost of advertising on ITV plummeted. According to Steve

Platt, the managing director of Carlton UK Sales, ’Advertisers buying

100 ratings on ITV in June instead of May would have saved themselves

pounds 300,000.’



The deflation comes after months of advertiser complaints over rampant

airtime inflation. Airtime prices for male audiences are down around 20

per cent this month, compared to year-on-year rises of around 10 per

cent in April and May, while ABC1 men prices have fallen 24 per cent on

June 1997 and prices for 16- to 34-year-old men are down 30 per

cent.



Even advertisers targeting housewives with children have missed out on

good deals, with the price of 100 ratings costing pounds 120,000 less

this month than last.



Many advertisers ploughed spend into April and May after fears that ITV

was asking extortionate rates for its World Cup airtime. Platt

criticised agencies for underestimating what the audiences would be in

June and the effect on airtime prices.



Buyers argue that ITV tried to over-price World Cup airtime when

negotiations kicked off last year. Tim Greatrex, the deputy managing

director of Zenith Media, said: ’ITV over-hyped the football and there’s

also an argument that it actually undersold the rest of its

schedule.’



However, one ITV sales head described such comments as ’garbage’ and hit

out at the lack of professionalism of TV buyers. ’As more agencies are

paid by fee rather than commission, buyers seem to be getting lazy and

can’t be bothered to take advantage of these short-term

opportunities.’



Carlton’s chief executive, Martin Bowley, said: ’Buyers seem more

interested in securing a free ticket than in looking after their

clients’ interests.’ ITV has now embarked on a massive drive to alert

advertisers to the short-term deals available.



World Cup Watch, p3.



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