This year’s NewFronts — the digital media’s counterpart to upfronts — was forced to go online due to COVID-19.
The event was originally supposed to take place between April 27 and May 6 in New York, but has now been pushed to the week of June 22nd and will be carried out virtually.
“I’ll be honest: When we first confronted the need to hold the NewFronts entirely online back in March, it was exciting but daunting,” said Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) president David Cohen. He added that the planning is coming together naturally and they have innovative storytelling, production and virtual experiences that no one wants to miss.
This year, presenters will be tailoring their conversations around changing media habits, long-lasting media shifts and innovation that is being born amid COVID.
NewFronts brings together some of the largest players in digital media and advertising, so we wanted to take a look at who is still attending the event and what IAB has to say about the changes.
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The New NewFronts
Not only did the event shift to a virtual event, but it also changed its central focus.
The theme for this year’s event is “Insight. Inspiration. Transformation.”
Participants will be discussing what is on everybody’s mind in this time marked by economic uncertainty:
- What are we learning about consumers and their media habits that will transform our industry?
- Which behaviors are fleeting and which are lasting?
- What are the implications for marketers?
- What new models are emerging that marketers and agencies should know about?
NewFronts may provide a space for publishers to demonstrate the value they offer to advertisers during a time when ad pricing is low, the stability of the ad tech ecosystem is concerning and programmatic spend is down.
Even though notable participants have dropped out of the event since it moved online, many will carry out their presentations. Hulu, YouTube, Condé Nast, CSS Entertainment’s Crackle Plus and more are still on the agenda.
The idea is that this crisis did bring about panic, but it has also created innovation. How is the digital media industry going to keep up with new consumer realities?
The market for digital advertising is wide. Last year over 140k different brands advertised digitally. Some of the largest buyers included Geico, Verizon, SmileDirectClub and Tik Tok.
Even though earnings were going strong in January and February for many publishers, COVID threw a wrench in the numbers.
“Performance was strong during the first two months of the quarter, but then in March we experienced a significant slowdown in ad revenues,” explained Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat. Revenue was still up compared to the year before, but it is unclear what Q2 has in store.
MediaRadar data shows that 15% fewer companies bought YouTube ads in April compared to March. (There were big changes in overall programmatic spend in April — for details, read here). We do not know if that trend will continue, or if more companies will begin advertising again as the economy reopens.
We will continue to monitor and share the advertising data as the economy moves forward.
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