Strategies for getting the most from 2021 Upfronts

Samba TV
4 min readMay 20, 2021



The TV Upfronts have kicked off and, for the second year in a row, they are virtual. Instead of showing up live and in person to the week-long event in New York City, you can once again stream them conveniently from wherever you are on whichever device you choose. It looks a lot like the current TV landscape! And in a world of multiple screens, OTT streaming and time-shifted viewing, it makes sense that a traditional approach to TV Upfronts will no longer get you the same results of years past.

When thinking about what’s driving the decisions behind this year’s upfront TV buying season, we’ll certainly continue to feel the impact of the previous tumultuous year, primarily in the demand for flexible buying and full-funnel measurement. But we’ll also see these needs amplified by the adjustments the industry is making to the deprecation of cookies and restrictions with mobile IDs. And, with identity top of mind for everyone, expect this to be sharply in focus. It’s a priority for the brands and agencies to quickly adapt to new identity strategies that address the changing behavior of viewers and the shifting privacy landscape.

Ready to plan smarter? Read on for our strategies to make this Upfronts season a success for your brand or agency.

Identity is key for a successful cross-screen strategy.

The deprecation of cookies has created massive disruption for brands and advertisers, leading to an emphasis on how it’s being addressed in the Upfronts. Key to any effective marketing strategy is a comprehensive and privacy-compliant omniscreen solution. Tapping into digital audiences across screens can be incredibly lucrative for brands seeking new ways to engage with TV audiences. By extending a linear TV strategy across addressable digital devices (think smartphones or tablets), brands can maximize their effectiveness at reaching their audiences in a privacy-compliant and comprehensive way. From access to audiences of non-ad supported shows to reaching cord-cutters and more, a cross-screen approach is a must-have strategy for these Upfronts and the future of TV advertising.

TV-first advertising is back, but cross-screen retargeting is key.

TV as a medium has always dominated the advertising industry. And TV-first advertising is back stronger than ever before. But in today’s advertising landscape, TV-first advertising doesn’t just mean TV and TV alone — it means using the largest piece of glass in the home to leave an imprint on an audience that you can capitalize on through cross-device retargeting alongside a consumer’s pathway to conversion.

While the adjustments to identity management expose an existential threat to the performant tactics we’re discussing here, what we’re also seeing is a simplification of the providers in the marketplace who can preserve such capabilities in the wake of cookie deprecation and mobile ID restrictions. The heroes of this year’s upfront season will be those with privacy-compliant omniscreen solutions.

TV attribution should be driving your strategy.

It’s more important than ever that TV advertising be measured from initial ad exposure through the full conversion funnel. Oftentimes traditional broadcast deals are not up to the task, and it’s your responsibility to connect the dots. The solution? Define the signals that matter to your business (location data, app logins, website visits, etc.) and insist on working with a first-party TV data provider that can map TV exposure to these signals.

Viewers are redefining primetime, but you’re still in control.

While the days of targeting tactics like primetime roadblocks may be over, linear TV still has some juice when it comes to connecting to audiences. The key is augmenting different platforms with one another to view your campaigns holistically. Take a data-backed approach based on finding the shows and categories that retain a higher percentage of live or same-day viewers and factoring these learnings into your media plans

Advertise to your audience, not a broad demographic.

Audience segment data can be vital to helping you achieve your goals by combining aspects of traditional advertising with addressable forms of digital media. To do this successfully, work with a TV data provider that has a representative and large scale data set to better tailor audience segments that go well beyond broad demographics and align with your specific brand values and objectives.

Don’t let the competition block you from success.

TV commercial retargeting is a smart way to proactively take action against the competition. How? Work with TV data partners who can track commercials in real-time and quickly retarget viewers that have watched those commercials. Know when viewers are watching your competitor’s TV ads and engage those viewers in real time by delivering your own ads to their smartphone, tablet, computer, or other addressable digital devices

While new innovations in the media landscape mean more of a challenge for advertisers, the changes benefit the audience — and ultimately it’s the audience that’s key to everything we do. Upfronts is an opportunity to allocate ad spend, sure, but it’s also a chance to celebrate entertainment and connect to consumers in new and innovative ways. For a deeper dive into these strategies and for even more tactics to make this Upfronts season the best yet, download our full Upfronts Guide.



Samba TV

We place data at the heart of TV to enable a more scientific approach to advertising and a better viewing experience for everyone.