BY JON LAFAYETTE Packaged goods marketers led by Procter & Gamble and Kraft have jumped into the scatter market early, looking to spend $20-$30 million in the second quarter. The move by some of the savviest media players suggests that, like the fourth and first quarter, inventory will be tight in the second quarter and that ad prices will climb in the weeks ahead. Mel Berning, president of U.S. broadcast at Mediavest, which buys ad time for both P&G and Kraft, declined to comment on whether his clients were in the market. But he said there was no question “there’s some heat in the marketplace.” He noted that prices were rising in scatter, with many networks already seeking increases of 10% to 15% above the upfront. “You hear a lot of huge premiums out there in the marketplace, and we can’t afford to do that,” Berning said. “We’re going to look for opportunities that let us spend at rates we can live with.” The money pouring into the market, confirmed by network ad sales execs, also suggests that the strong demand could carry over into the upfront market for the 2003-2004 broadcast year. And that has network executives salivating. “This tells me the second quarter is going to be a boomer, and the upfront is going to be a boomer,” said Bruce Lefkowitz, EVP of entertainment sales, Fox Cable Networks Group. Cable network executives said that car makers had already completed their second-quarter buys and that the packaged goods companies were by no means the only ones seeking to buy additional commercial time. “There’s so much money coming in from almost every category that it’s almost shocking,” said David Cassaro, senior EVP of sales and distribution at E! Networks. “They’re all chasing that younger, affluent demographic.” Among the categories ad sales executives said were requesting schedules were dot-coms, fast food, mobile phones and movies. Another packaged goods marketer, Clorox, was also said to be pouring money into the market. Marketers still looking to buy first-quarter time are paying steep increases in CPMs. Some networks are asking 60% above upfront costs. That’s part of the motivation for the packaged goods companies to be moving into the market now, relatively early in the year, for the second quarter. “We’ve just finished a couple of first-quarter deals, and they were pretty high priced,” said Larry Kravitz, group director, national broadcast at Carat USA. CPMs on networks including MTV and BET were up 15% from the upfront. “We’ve told our clients that if they have money to spend in the second quarter, they better get it moving pretty soon. They’re going to pay some pretty high increases either way.” “If things are tight in the second quarter, it behooves people to move early,” added Bob Flood, director of electronic media at Optimedia. “Money may be migrating to cable as a result of the strength of the broadcast marketplace.” Among the advertisers spending extra money during the first quarter was Dell Computer. One network executive said Dell was looking to either spend cash for ads, or do direct-response advertising. With direct-response advertising, the network gets paid based on either the number of calls its spots generate or a percentage of sales. One network that received a “robust” schedule from Dell was Cartoon Network. Dell bought time both on the channel’s Adult Swim late-night block for grownups and on some of its programming that generates a significant percentage of adult viewers, according to Kim McQuilken, EVP of ad sales and marketing for Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network also made a first-quarter ad sale to an insurance marketer looking to reach college students through the Adult Swim block. McQuilken declined to identify the insurance company because the ads have not yet started to air.