Upfront week has always been about pomp and circumstance. Each year in mid-May, advertisers would make their pilgrimages from Madison Avenue to various stages in Manhattan, where TV networks would show off their shiniest new toys ahead of negotiations for the upcoming TV season. But then the pandemic hit in 2020, forcing media companies to cancel their annual events. And as the advertising world adjusted to virtual presentations, some marketers thought in-person upfronts were gone for good.

“When Covid first happened, I thought they were done and would never come back,” Stacey Stewart, chief marketplace officer at media agency UM, said. After 2021’s virtual presentations improved on the first year’s “clunky” events, she continued, “my thought was that most of the media partners would look at it as a cost saving to do it virtually again.

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