Wednesday, April 24th, 2013


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Cynopsis Media Presents: Newfront Preview Special Report

It’s crunch time at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), as everyone hunkers down for this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, which begin next Monday, April 29th. Half as long but with eighteen presentations, this year is a departure from the 2012 event in numerous ways, including a change in management from digital agency Digitas to the IAB. IAB Vice President of Member Services Julie Van Ullen outlined the reasons behind the shift.


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“The founding six partners [AOL, Digitas, Google, Hulu, Microsoft, and Yahoo!] recognized that it was important to the growth of the marketplace that the NewFronts be an event run by sellers for all buyers,” Van Ullen said. “The agnostic nature of the IAB and our overall mission to grow the marketplace as a whole made us a perfect candidate for that.” More than 1,000 people attended the inaugural event last spring, and the clearest result of the 2012 NewFronts was the resounding declaration that digital entertainment had arrived.

If last year’s event was a “coming out party,” according to Larry Tanz, CEO of Vuguru, “this year, buyers are going in with budgets they intend to spend.” With some outlets predicting $1 billion ad spend at this year’s event, Tremor Video’s President Lauren Weiner stressed, “Media planners and buyers are now thinking in a screen-agnostic way. They’re thinking in terms of transmedia, or cross-platform storytelling.”
What attendees can specifically expect this year is being closely guarded — even from the IAB. “We’ve heard little bits and pieces,” Van Ullen admitted, “but we’re as in the dark as anyone else.” Here’s what Cynopsis uncovered.

  • Digitas’ John McCarus, SVP Practice Lead of Brand Content, stressed that the focus of his agency’s presentation will be video context and content. “It will be a series of discussions, viewpoints, and rants about hashed-out ideas that you need to take advantage of now,” McCarus said. Speakers include Daily Beast Editor-in-Chief Tina Brown; Jules Daly of RSA, Ridley Scott’s production shop; Twitter’s Adam Bain; David Karp from Tumblr; Foursquare’s Blake Shaw; Google’s Head of Mobile Sales & Strategy, Jason Spero; and Rovio’s Peter Vesterbacka. Digitas clients Harley Davidson and Taco Bell will be speaking as well.
  • Alloy Digital’s recent acquisition of the video ad network Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG) will no doubt play a part in its session, as the deal gives the company access to DBG’s 2,600-publisher network. Alloy’s offering will highlight upcoming programming featuring A-list talent such as Jane Lynch from “Dropping The Soap,” which is executive produced by Lisa Kudrow and comedy brand Smosh. According to Co-Founder and CEO Matt Diamond, the company’s message this year is about quality: “The value of what’s being put into digital programming is unique, from talent to producers and writers,” he said.
  • Marc DeBevoise, EVP/GM of Entertainment, Sports, and News, explained CBS Interactive’s session will be straightforward, highlighting the media giant’s “more video-centric brands and their content.” Participants will see the full breadth of digital video options, from original web shows to live sports and news coverage, including brands such as, CNET, GameSpot and more. Grammy Award-winning alternative rockers Phoenix will close out the show with a live set. CBS’ concert web series LIVE ON LETTERMAN will also feature the performance, which means the audience will have the unique opportunity to play a part in an original series by simply rocking out to “1901.”
  • The other broadcast behemoth, Univision, will be focusing on America’s fastest-growing consumer sector, Hispanics, and the technology needed to reach them. “Univision owns the intersection between digital and Hispanics,” Steve Mandala, EVP of Advertising Sales, said. “It’s important for us to take a leadership role in helping marketers understand that digital opportunity.” Expect to hear less about the company’s recently-debuted web series, “Arranque de Pasion, La Historia de Ela” and more about currently under wraps made-for-web content offerings and other digital innovations.
  • The Weather Company will undoubtedly be discussing its audience as well: “We reach more than 100 million viewers on cable, 57 million on the web, and 42 million on mobile,” Editor-in-Chief of Digital, Neil Katz, said. “On the web, we’re bigger than ESPN, The New York Times, and Pinterest. On mobile, we’re bigger than CBS, Fox, and Instagram.” Katz also disclosed that has “increased content consumption by 800% year-over-year, and doubled the size of the audience.” Expect to see six new digital series that will be available on all three screens (mobile, TV, and web).
  • If all goes according to plan, VEVO will be whistling a happy tune: “Expect some great music,” VP of Content and Programming, Doug McVehil, said. “We will have a strong lineup of performers covering the many musical genres available across our platform.” In addition to outlining VEVO’s audience and original programming, the event will also showcase new products like “broadcast-style digital channel,” VEVO TV.
  • Fred Santarpia, Conde Nast’s Chief Digital Officer — and VEVO alum — gave some insight into the 100-year-old company’s NewFronts debut, saying, “It’s about introducing Conde Nast into the marketplace. We’re looking to diversify digital video into different avenues.” This could translate not only to desktop content consumption, but also “a connected IP living room experience.” Just last month, Conde Nast introduced its new GQ and Glamour channels; at the NewFront, they plan to announce multiple new channels set to launch over the course of 2013.
  • The Wall Street Journal, the only other media publisher involved in this year’s NewFronts, said it will spotlight Worldstream, the paper’s mobile-social video platform, and how it’s enhancing news delivery. Vice President of Global Marketing Nina Lawrence said that in addition to unveiling new programming, the paper will be “creating news at the event via WSJ Live interviews on site.” Some of The Wall Street Journal’s most respected journalists will also demonstrate how they leverage video to enhance their reporting.
  • Sony-owned Crackle will feature viewer-engagement initiatives and new measurement techniques alongside its original programming, TV shows, and films. Attendees will hear about the recently-launched interactive ad unit, cRoll, said Eric Berger, Sony’s SVP of Digital Networks, as well as a comScore-partnered initiative. “[The initiative] provides audience information on our smart TV and game console applications,” said Berger. “Brands and agencies can now reach users with interactive ad units on all platforms, including TV, and can receive third-party verification of unduplicated reach across all platforms.”


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The remaining nine presentations will run the gamut, from Blip and Yahoo! presenting original series and advertising opportunities, to Google exploring its “Gen C” findings and showcasing YouTube’s landmark 1 billion monthly users (reached late last month). Microsoft Advertising will likely promote offerings from its vast digital portfolio, like Skype and Bing, as well as Xbox LIVE, while AOL will continue its aggressive video strategy. Disney Interactive will likely  focus on reaching the kid and family demographics.

Buyers have high expectations for this year’s event, but are also going into the NewFronts with a clear idea of what they’re looking for. “What am I really excited to see? The multiscreen story. I want the media providers to put their money where their mouths are by showing us how they’re zeroing in on mobile, connected devices, and so on,” said Ritu Trivedi, MediaVest’s SVP of Digital Strategy and Partnerships. GE’s Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing, Linda Boff, echoed the desire  and need – for a multiscreen roadmap: “What’s the best way for advertisers to use video content that’s increasingly being downloaded on every platform?” she asked.

Raman Sehgal, Dannon’s former Brand Media Manager — and newly-appointed Vice President of Client Strategy at Pinterest marketing startup Pingage — said, “Digital upfronts are a tricky thing. It’s a great opportunity for [brands] to see what new capabilities are coming into the marketplace from the big players, but it can defeat one of digital’s advantages — flexibility.” MediaVest’s Trivedi agreed on the importance of acknowledging the inherent differences between digital entertainment and traditional TV: “There’s more of an advertiser urgency at the Upfronts… The NewFronts are less about volume and more about high quality.”


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A major struggle for the NewFronts remains its identity problem, namely how both traditional television and digital industry insiders can’t seem to agree on what the event should be. Some call it a competitor to the Upfronts; while others see it as a complement or even an independent entity. Several people we spoke with insisted it should remain focused solely on digital video (as opposed to mobile, for example), while buyers like GE’s Boff are tuning in for a wider digital angle: “Especially after the Super Bowl, when Oreo took advantage of an opportune moment, [tweeting, “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” during the blackout] what’s top of mind for us are topics like real-time marketing.”

Yahoo! Vice President Erin McPherson agreed, saying, “Digital media experiences can be compelling accompaniments to traditional experiences… But data shows that increasing numbers of audience are experiencing the majority of their media and entertainment on digital as a first — not a second — platform.”

“The NewFronts are not just about putting on a great event during your slot,” said VEVO’s McVehil. “It’s about the partnerships that start there and continue all year.” Perhaps the IAB’s own Van Ullen put it best, saying, “We’re talking about super cool content being consumed at mass scale by highly engaged audiences on more devices than ever. Quite simply, original video content is the hottest ticket.”

Later –
Lucia Davis

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director
Denise O’Connor: Group Publisher, Cynopsis Media
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

Cynopsis Ad Sales: Mike Farina | VP Sales & Marketing | 203-218-6480
Classifieds Sales: Trish Pihonak | Director of Operations & Content | 888-702-3858

Cynopsis Media: a division of Access Intelligence, LLC * 10 Norden Place * Norwalk, CT * 06855 * USA

Copyright Cynopsis 2013

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