Putting Digital Advertising Upfront and Center

To paraphrase one of our favorite movies from last year, you know what’s better than 25.8 billion dollars? 59 billion dollars. That’s the amount of money spent on television advertisements in 2010.

$25.8 billion, the amount spent in the same year on online advertising, is certainly a respectable number, but there’s plenty of room to grow.

A group of digital ad executives are in New York this week, participating for the first time in the television  “Upfronts” events, during which networks present upcoming fall shows to advertisers. According to the Wall Street Journal, they’re hosting competing events to attract the attention – and dollars – of advertisers in attendance.

It’s an interesting collision of old and new. Upfronts are a time for major advertisers to check out the new shows and lock in billions of ad dollars for the upcoming year, months in advance. Digital advertisers, on the other hand, work on a much shorter time frame, often purchasing campaigns shortly before they run. While the quick turnaround time of digital has plenty of advantages, which have fueled the red-hot growth of the industry, it also means that online campaigns are smaller in scale.

We’re interested to see if this approach results in a new round of big budget, splashy, online-only ad campaigns from the major advertisers. And with such a long lead time, advertisers could go a step further and integrate high level social media, e-mail, and search efforts.

Upfronts don’t end until next week, and there’s no data yet about sales figures, but we say that simply by getting major advertisers to re-consider the ways in which they purchase online advertising, that this party crashing experiment can be called a success.