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
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
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
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
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.