A media buyer’s guide to the Newfronts
They open Monday with more than three dozen companies
April 29, 2016
When the newfronts started back in 2009, hosted by Digitas, many media buyers found them gimmicky.
They seemed like just a way to try to steal attention from TV, at a time when digital video was still a small niche and only a handful of advertisers were open to putting together any sort of digital video strategy.
But that perception has quickly evolved.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau took over the newfronts four years ago, and the program began expanding at the same time that digital video was becoming a genuine competitor to television for viewers and ad dollars.
Digital video ad spending will nearly double this year compared to 2014, according to eMarketer, and by 2020 it will rival magazines and newspapers in total spending.
While the Digital Content Newfronts, as they’re now called, are still not in the league of the broadcast upfront, when the bulk of the coming year’s ad inventory is sold, media people agree they’ve become a helpful part of the buying process.
But there are caveats. Buyers say it is not uncommon for companies to present ideas at the newfronts that never come to fruition. In fact, a small number of companies have even folded or gotten out of digital video within a year or two of presenting.
Here’s a quick look at what to expect and what to know about this year’s presentations.
The newfronts kick off two weeks before the broadcast upfront presentations, which is no coincidence – digital video is trying to steal money away from traditional TV.
There will be 37 companies on hand this year, four more than last year and the biggest lineup ever under the IAB.
Over the past three years there’s been a rise in the number of MCNs, or multi-channel networks, which essentially amass networks of talent who post to YouTube.
Most MCNs focus on a particular target area. Machinima, for instance, is aimed at gamers and features a large number of popular gaming vloggers and commentators.
Last year, buyers told Media Life they would have preferred to have the MCNs moved to a different event or moved to the second week, with the first week reserved for big-time digital video companies such as Hulu, YouTube and AOL That appears to have largely happened this year, with a few exceptions.
The newfronts differ in one very important way from the broadcast upfront. That’s in the sheer quantity of inventory.
For broadcast, there’s only a certain number of commercials available on each show, and this scarcity factor works to the advantage of the networks. Buyers know that if they don’t buy, someone else may snap up that inventory.
There’s no such must-buy factor with digital, with so much inventory available.
The newfronts last two weeks, with the final presentation wrapping up Friday, May 13, three days before Fox and NBC make their upfront presentations.
Not every digital video company participates in the newfronts. Netflix and Amazon, of course, are not ad supported, so they will not be there.
And Crackle holds a separate upfront event in mid-April, helping to set it apart from the dozens who will be presenting over the next two weeks.
Last year the big story coming out of the newfronts was Hulu picking up distribution rights to “Seinfeld.” This year little of significance has leaked out ahead of time about the presentations.
Media Life will provide daily previews of who’s presenting and what media people need to know about them, as well as what happens at each presentation.
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