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8 Rethinking the

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8 Rethinking the upfront

Some marketers have long considered the decades-old upfront is antiquated, and there were signs in 2006 that the marketplace, where about $30 billion of TV ad time is sold each spring, may be on the way out. At the very least companies are rethinking their go-to-market strategies. Johnson & Johnson sat it out this year, opting instead to buy its estimated $500 million in net time in the scatter market. John Muszinski, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Starcom USA, told Adweek in September that fewer ad dollars are committed to the upfront each year—in part because companies don't want to make buying decisions as much as 16 months before the ads appear. Last year, Julie Roehm, former Wal-Mart svp marketing communications, made headlines when she proposed replacing the upfront with an auction. Now, eBay is creating an online auction, e-Media Exchange, which will focus on scatter buys when it starts next year. Still, marketers and agencies are thinking big about how to improve the ad buying process.