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Ashley J. Swartz

Recent Posts

How to Automate TV Rate Cards and Pricing in 3 Phases

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Mar 23, 2021 10:00:00 AM

An automation strategy can help reduce price variability and achieve sustainable increases in total revenue, but most TV sellers have yet to introduce one. The status quo for updating rate cards is using Excel to apply across-the-board percentage increases every year—or every quarter, at best. This leads to inventory being undervalued because pricing doesn’t reflect continuous shifts in supply and demand.

Furious has found that sellers can achieve a 10% revenue lift from automating their rate card process and using data-driven pricing methodologies, assuming that governance is in place to improve adherence by sales teams. To achieve this, programmers and operators should develop a strategy for the planning, implementation and operation stages. Here’s what each one entails.

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning

The 5 Pricing Processes and Workflows That Should Leverage Automation

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Mar 9, 2021 10:00:00 AM

For most linear TV sellers, the process for updating rate cards is fundamentally unchanged from the 1950s, as I explained in a previous post. Instead of using a pencil and a ledger as they did in the past, today’s analysts use Excel, but they’re still applying across-the-board percentage increases instead of analyzing actual sales data to make decisions on pricing.

An automation strategy can help to reduce price variability and achieve sustainable increases in total revenue, but most sellers haven’t introduced one. The obvious question is how—and where—automation should be introduced.

Here are the five key processes and workflows to consider:

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning

The Anatomy of a Rate Card: How TV Advertising Pricing Is Shared with Buyers

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Feb 23, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Used to share pricing with buyers, TV rate cards contain a complete list of ad rates for specific time slots, stations or networks. In most seller organizations, they’re only updated annually or quarterly at most, and new rates are calculated using Excel. Often analysts apply across-the-board percentage increases rather than analyzing historical sales data to optimize pricing; the latter is simply too difficult with Excel as their only tool.

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning, TV Advertising Sales

Why Sellers Should Have an Automation Strategy for Setting TV Ad Prices in 2021

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Feb 9, 2021 10:00:00 AM

Although linear TV sellers are now able to segment and deliver audiences in ways that would have been inconceivable in the past, the normal process for updating rate cards is still a relic of the 1950s. The key difference is that instead of calculating prices with a pencil in a ledger, analysts now use Excel. 

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning, TV Advertising Sales

TV 101: How Linear TV Inventory Is Typically Priced and Sold

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Jan 26, 2021 10:00:00 AM


TV has long been viewed as a cost-effective vehicle for delivering reach, which still holds true today. According to one estimate that backed into pricing on a CPM basis, the average price across all national TV advertising in the U.S. is under $2.50, though TV CPMs are usually perceived to be at least 10 times higher. (The author, Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan, attributes this disconnect to the fact that TV CPMs are usually expressed in terms of primetime programming and against the coveted demo of 18- to 49-year-olds, ignoring the totality of TV’s massive reach.)

To be clear, high-value programming can be expensive. The average CPM for primetime broadcast ads bought in the upfronts for the 2019–2020 TV season was $36.19, up 13.2% over the previous year, according to eMarketer. Then there’s scarce inventory that fetches astronomical prices: The average cost of a Super Bowl ad in 2020 was $5.6 million, up from $5.25 million in 2019. 

Here’s a quick primer on how TV is priced and sold.

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning, TV Advertising Sales

Why Pricing Management Is Uniquely Challenging in the TV Industry

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Jan 12, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Aside from being calculated in Excel instead of a ledger, the process for creating TV rate cards, which provide a complete list of ad rates for specific time slots, stations or networks, hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1950s. Given how dynamic and complex the TV marketplace has become, there are a number of challenges and risks in continuing down this path.

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning

3 Predictions for How Linear TV Advertising Will Evolve in 2021

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Dec 15, 2020 10:00:00 AM

The end of 2020 is near, and so many of us are longing to close this chapter and move onto a new one, though 2021 is still full of unknowns. Will it be another year of social distancing and working from home? Or will widespread distribution of vaccines return us to a semblance of normalcy by late Q2 or Q3? Is there even a universal “normal” anymore?

No matter what the future holds, the advertising industry will continue to push forward and adapt to whatever our “next normal” is. That being said, what does 2021 mean for linear TV and, more specifically, for linear TV advertising? 

I have some thoughts and three predictions.

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Topics: Addressable Linear Advertising

3 Common Mistakes Sellers Make with Addressable TV and How to Course-Correct

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Oct 20, 2020 10:00:00 AM

For more than two decades now, programmers and operators have wanted to emulate digital publishers’ ability to offer dynamic advertising to targeted audiences. The notion of applying sophisticated targeting on top of linear TV’s appeal and mass reach has been the holy grail, and it’s starting to come to fruition.

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Topics: Addressable Linear Advertising

3 Common Mistakes Sellers Make with Traditional Linear and How to Fix Them

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Oct 6, 2020 7:35:54 AM

The enduring appeal of traditional linear TV to national advertisers has lulled many sellers into a false sense of security—and no small amount of denial about the headwinds they face.

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Topics: Addressable Linear Advertising

How to Package Inventory This Fall to Make Up for Lost High-Value Programming

Posted by Ashley J. Swartz on Sep 22, 2020 9:00:00 AM

The marketplace for TV and video advertising is incredibly dynamic right now, and it’s hard to be certain of anything. On the one hand, major sports have all returned, which is great news for buyers and sellers alike, but we can’t necessarily count on an uninterrupted NFL season. And while studios are finding ways to safely resume production, we’re still left with much less premium primetime programming than we can usually count on in the fall.

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Topics: Advertising Pricing & Planning