LIVE FROM THE NEWFRONTS… Tuesday Edition

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM FUTURE TODAY
 

Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Tuesday May 3, 2022

LIVE FROM THE NEWFRONTS… Tuesday Edition

Cathy Applefeld Olson

Netflix isn’t a NewFronts presenter but based on a tally of mentions about “a certain service” reversing its anti-ad position, it’s certainly in the room. Streaming is now reaching more A18-49 viewers than linear TV, and as AVOD outpaces SVOD, streamers are jacking up the programming—including A list-led originals and a whole swath of seasonal programming blocks—with which brands can share screen time. Behind the glass, presenters from Amazon to Samsung Ads to Peacock announced new, snappy-named, single-stop dashboards where clients can plan and activate their linear and CTV media buys in one place. Speaking of CTV, ad spend soared 57 percent in 2021 to $15.2 billion and is expected to reach $21.5 billion this year, according to the ninth annual IAB report on online advertising. The 2022 NewFronts are off and running, and today we’ve also got news from Conde Nast, first-timer Roku and Future Today. Read on for more…

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM FUTURE TODAY

ASCENDING AVOD

Fox President of Advertising Sales Marianne Gambelli stopped by to tease the May 16 Fox Upfront before handing the mic to Mark Rotblat, Chief Revenue Officer at Fox-owned free ad-supported service Tubi. After declaring “within two years over half of all internet users will be using at least one free streaming service,” he dropped some stats: Last quarter the service counted 51 million monthly active users, some solid growth from the 33 million at the end of 2020. Drilling down… 71 percent of those users are cable-free. 78 percent of them aren’t on Peacock, 68 percent aren’t Roku Channel customers and 62 percent don’t subscribe to Hulu. “More than a quarter of our users are unreachable to other AVODs,” he said.

There was one word on the lips of Roku, Tubi and other OG ad-supported services—Free—as they touted their forward-thinking ethos of never having any tiers hampered by sign-ups, credit cards, passwords or strings. “Free is different. It’s easy, satisfying, no-commitment viewing and our viewers love it,” said Rob Holmes, VP, Programming at the Roku Channel, which brought a parade of talent including Chrissy Teigan and mom Pepper Teigan of “Chrissy’s Court” and a prerecorded video from “Die Hart’s” Kevin Hart. Both shows will be back with new seasons.

As the AVOD business heats up, we checked in with Vikrant Mathur, CEO and Co-founder of ad-supported platform Future Today about the ways the company is helping both content owners and brands navigate the market. Future Today operates a portfolio of hundreds of owned & operated channels segmented into verticals and distributed by the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Comcast Xfinity.

“The proliferation of AVOD has seen an influx of new apps into the ecosystem leading to more competition for both eyeballs and content,” Mathur said. “With our vast library of content as well as the hundreds of channels that we manage, can help content owners both bolster their content offering as well as market and promote their apps to our existing user base.” From a brand standpoint, “AVOD promises to marry the best of TV—premium, lean-back, living room experience—with the benefits of digital-superior segmentation, targeting, measurement and reporting. It should be a no-brainer but it is often difficult to execute at scale because of the fragmentation across every link in the value chain. There is a lack of standardization and sorting through a web of sellers and buying options can be daunting,” he said.

Smarter TVs, smarter ads: Two companies that “own the glass,” Samsung and Vizio, talked up the unique benefits of the ACR data they offer advertisers. Samsung brought out a panel including execs from Disney Streaming, Sandals, and Starcom, who concurred… The addressable market is expected to hit $3.6 billion this year, according to Vizio Addressable Manager, Network Partnerships, Nicole Cannizzaro, who touted the company’s Vizio Enact, which enables brands to turn any national television ad into an addressable opportunity via aspects like sequential messaging, localization and storytelling.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM FUTURE TODAY

BRAND ACTIVATIONS + INNOVATIONS

Virtual product placement is a thing. So far this week, Peacock and Amazon are talking up the innovation. Jeff Blackler, NBCU EVP of Agency Partnerships, touted Peacock In-Scene Ads, in test-mode now and with the ability to not only ingrate brands into scenes post-production but change out those brands through time. Viewers may see one ad when “Jurassic World: Domain” debuts in theaters this summer, and a different ad weeks later, he said… At Amazon, “the ability to insert product and brand advertising after the film has wrapped, making it easier for advertisers to reach consumers in the living room” is here, said Colleen Aubrey, SVP of Advertising Products and Technology at Amazon Ads. A sizzle of examples included before and after scenes featuring billboards advertising M&Ms on TurboTax on building facades in street scenes, and a can of Sprite that appeared on a desktop.

State Farm to date has clocked 170 million impressions from 40 unique Peacock ads and seen double-digit lifts on its KPIs working with the NBCU team, noted Matt Coleman, State Farm marketing manager. The company advertises in “Bel Air,” has custom pause ads integrated into “Yellowstone” and will have a new collab in the upcoming season of “Girls 5Eva,” among activations.

Roku is partnering with Microsoft on a data play through which clients can see how both linear and streaming TV ads influence search and online behaviors… Roku announced Upfront partners will be first to test a new shoppable ad experience through its One View platform that adds an overlay to existing ads. It also has a new program for retailers that will pair shoppable ads with Roku Pay.

Roku Brand Studios created a sleep hub and embedded it into the stream for Sleep Number that helped viewers understand how their daily activities affected their sleep. “Households that saw the Sleep Number brand experience were 38 percent more likely than those who just saw the ad to purchase,” said Chris Bruss, head of the studio.

Verizon used its 5G ultrawide band cameras to create virtual portals that gave 58,000 home viewers front-row seats to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Peacock. The company also incorporated AR into their activation with the Billboard Latin Music Awards that enabled viewers to unlock a hologram of Puerto Rican musician Wisan that appeared in their living rooms, noted Jennifer Gardner, VP, Media Platforms, at Verizon.

PROGRAMMING PEAKS

“You go where the fish are. There are so many people who aren’t watching linear television anymore; they’re watching streaming.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell laid it on the line for team Amazon, which is super-stoked to welcome “Thursday Night Football” this year. “It’s not just about taking a television broadcast and putting it on a different platform. Whether it’s more stats or different interactivity, this platform allows is to do things we’ve only dreamed about to date. First thing is to make sure we get out of the box with a credible broadcast.” Goodell also dropped some big news: All 14 NFL playoff teams from last season will play on “TNF.”

Conde Nast was riding high the day after the Met Gala, and it’s going to be adding more live event programming steeped in its brands. Upcoming for the company—which experienced 22 percent growth in its global video audience during the past year, reported CEO Roger Lynch—is a tripling of its sports content with the GQ Sports brand, including live Super Bowl 57 coverage of “everything but the game,” Vanity Fair at the Oscars, Glamour’s Woman of the Year event and Allure’s Best of Beauty. The company also announced a new partnership with Moat, Oracle’s ad measurement and marketing analytics suite.

Three time’s a charm for Martha Stewart and Roku. The lifestyle queen hit the stage to announce a trio of shows: “Martha Cooks,” “Martha’s Garden” and “Martha’s Holidays.” She was joined by fellow foodies Emeril Lagasse and Christopher Kimball, who each have a pair of shows on tap. Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez stopped by to announce a new Spanish-language cooking show about Hispanic cuisine. And Daniel Radcliffe inhabited Weird Al Yankovic in a teaser for the upcoming biopic, aired at the conclusion of the presentation (yes, he pulls it off). Roku is also stepping up short-form through a partnership with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine.

With new Post Malone documentary “Runaway” in the works at Freevee, Amazon is going big on building out its slate of music-focused content. “Music will be a central part of our efforts, both scripted and unscripted,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. Also on the slate are “America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation,” Sarah Hyland’s “Play-Doh Squished” and drama “Beyond Black Beauty.”

Now that it’s grown to more than 200 channels, Samsung Ads Plus will be launching compilation channels—initially around the food, home reno and automotive verticals—and will be adding to its holiday movie pop-up channel (which was viewed three times more than any other channel on the service during December) with a Halloween-themed pop-up of horror and paranormal programming.

Peacock announced from the stage that next-day streaming of Bravo’s current season shows begins this week with the Season 14 premiere of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” months ahead of the previously announced September timeline… The streamer also is extending theatrical franchises including “Pitch Perfect,” “Best Man” and Seth MacFarlane’s “Ted” into series, and has David E. Kelley detective drama “The Missing” and Lorne Michaels/Pete Davidson premiere “Bupkis” in the works… As part of a previously announced collab with Universal Pictures, Peacock will see three original film debuts in 2023: “Shooting Stars,” “Praise This” and “The Killer.” The streamer also partnered with Lionsgate for a Pay 2 window beginning in 2024.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM FUTURE TODAY

VIEW FROM THE TOP

What are the hot trends the org behind the NewFronts are tracking as the streaming market continues to evolve? We asked We asked Eric John, VP, Media Center at the IAB. “Content remains king but attention does not come cheap as Netflix is finding with its recent subscriber loss,” John said. With brands immersing deeper in the digital realm, “CTV ad effectiveness requires more than just repurposing the same, 30-second linear TV spot into targeted CTV environments. Buyers need to test, learn, and optimize their commercials with multivariant creative to find true success and deliver on the promise of ‘right ad to the right household’ on CTV.”

Pointing to the popularity of Snap’s branded lenses and the massive creator economy on TikTok, John added, “Brands are also tapping the power of social video and advanced AR and 3D modeling capabilities that is native to most smartphones. These capabilities are opening the doors to new immersive formats and democratizing the entire creative process, putting branded experiences in the hands of consumers. The goal is to make it easy for the community to engage and interact directly with products.”

GAME ON

A new Samsung gaming hub will launch later this year to deliver a premium gaming experience on the TV.

Amazon gave Twitch its due, sharing some eye-grabbing data including the fact that 1.3 trillion people engaged on the platform last year. Sarah Iooss, Twitch Head of Sales, Americas, talked up the “For Twitch, With Twitch” creator-driven curated content blocks primed for ads, and Pod Picks, a shoppable experience that melds live entertainment and commerce. She said 40,000 people were tuned in simultaneously during a holiday experience last year, which will be back alongside a new back-to-school shopping opp.

SCENE + HEARD

“We’re not up front, we’re not down front, we’re certainly not old front… “ – Amy Poehler, opening Amazon’s presentation

“US viewers are bifurcating into mostly linear, mostly streaming audiences.” – Evan Shapiro, media pundit and cartographer, during an appearance for Samsung Ads

“For our virtual audience, thank you for staying clothed the whole time, at least from the waist up.” – Vivica A, Fox, who hosted Tubi’s talk

“No positive PCR test was going to keep me from being here tonight!” – joked Jeff Lewis, host of Freevee’s new “Hollywood Houselift”

“They’re not evil, power-hungry megalomaniacs; I don’t know how those rumors got started. They’re actually decent lovely people.” – Weird Al Yankovic, about working with Roku

Stay tuned for another in-depth report tomorrow. Have some NewFront news to share? I’d love to hear from you at Catholson331@gmail.com.

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