THE DIGITAL CONTENT NEWFRONTS: WHAT ARE THEY & WHY THEY MATTER

The NewFronts are a week-long, multi-billion-dollar marketplace
packed with the world’s biggest publishers, the best storytellers, and
the ad industry—all gathered to focus on the future of digital video
content. According to a recent IAB report, 2019 per-advertiser spend
on digital video is $18M, up from $14M in 2018, with nearly twothirds
of digital budgets allocated to video. 43% of advertisers’
original digital video budgets are allocated at the NewFronts.
And one of our agencies, Digitas, started it. Digitas is the only agency
to hold a NewFront, having held its first NewFront in 2008. In 2012
Digitas co-founded the Digital Content NewFronts, igniting a US
digital video marketplace that was valued at $730M in 2008 and is
estimated to grow to over $58B by 2023 (source: eMarketer).
This report pulls from the collective insights of PMX and Digitas.

EVERY PRESENTATION (IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS)

Content > Ads

“The continued rise of branded content and influencer partnerships – along with the resurgence of strategic product placement – was touted as a prime way to combat ad avoidance, distrustful perceptions of ad messages, and ad-free streaming.

At this year’s event, we saw a number of publishers unveil new content experiences for their audiences. Viacom, for example, shared new Digital Studios programming with David Spade, Marc Lamont Hill and Nickelodeon, who recently partnered with Kraft Heinz on a co-branded Lunchables program called “”Jackie & Patty’s Mixed Up Challenges.”” BBC News introduced new features to make content customized to users, including “”object-based-media,”” an interactive style of personalized, curated content based on users’ interests, behaviors and how much free time they have. Twitter also announced a WSJ partnership including original video formats, full-day programming and livestreaming events to offer new ways to experience content. Target Media Network rebranded as Roundel, and announced a primary offering of leveraging Target 1st party data across Owned & Operated inventory as well as a partner distribution network.”

KEY TAKEAWAY

With the rise of content and influencer marketing, brands need to
identify and work with best-in-class partners – Publicis Media is prepared to help marketers navigate this process through the launch of ‘PM Content Verified,’ a comprehensive process to map and verify vendors across the ecosystem.

Intention More Important than Attention

Consumer signals are indicators of intent, the most powerful insight a brand can have, because intention drives action. Brands no longer have to guess what consumers want. They’re being told thousands of times a day through millions of different signals, but the key is knowing how to truly listen.

The New York Times for example currently shared their new targeting solutions in beta that use machine learning to target and optimize advertising based on predictive emotions, motivations and topics. Meredith focused on the power of understanding consumer intent, which has been brought to life through unique audience profiles and programming strategies. Hulu talked about their use of robust first-party data to inform everything on their platform – whether its experience, content and advertising – all in an effort to allow brands to tailor experiences to their target customers. They also announced several unique ad units, including Binge Ads, which allows brands to target users who watched three consecutive episodes in the same session with a unique message or value exchange offering.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Marketers that adapt to the wants and needs of consumers will win – using data to understand consumer trends and insights brands can adjust product offering, messaging, and targeting to ultimately cater to and win customer intent and dollars.

Premium, Brand Safe, and Transparent Environments

Nearly every publisher offered solemn promises to raise the bar for programming and their rigorous brand safety processes while also nodding to enhancements in transparent data and privacy practices.

Digitas’ Newfront theme, “Trust Me,” focused heavily on why trust matters for brands and how they can use technology and storytelling to build (or rebuild) trust, with presentations form prolific thought leaders including Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author and host of podcast Revisionist History. Ellen Digital Network stated its continued commitment to providing a brand safe environment to partner with a variety of influencers, from digital natives discovered by Ellen to A-list celebrity talent. The New York Times echoed the sentiment that trust is more important than ever and unveiled “The Privacy Project”, an initiative that brings strong investigative journalism to educate audiences on the consequences of under-regulated access to data and technology. Meanwhile, Studio 71 acknowledged the importance of maintaining brand safety, as evidenced through their “Context” tool which brings automated content scanning married with human review. Vice unveiled a collaboration with Oracle’s Grapeshot technology to review every piece of Vice content for context to ensure it’s safe to monetize.

KEY TAKEAWAY

While targeting, premium content alignment and technology give some reassurance to brand safety, it remains an ongoing industry challenge – there remains a need for publishers, brands and agencies to work together to find a joint solution.

Performance Accountability

Historically the ROI of video and content have often been underrepresented. As more dollars shift from traditional ad formats into content in the coming years, understanding the true quantifiable impact of that channel is a key focus for publishers in the space.

Vudu focused on scale and robust 1st party purchasing data via parent company Walmart and their other supporting brands (Bonobos, Moosejaw, ModCloth, etc). Vudu made a splash in announcing New Shoppable Dynamic Ads for viewers to seamlessly purchase the products featured in an ad via Walmart, as well as a new Audience Network Extension to supplement their advertising reach with a variety of other premium OTT partners, eventually offering access to over 50% of households. Meanwhile, Conde Nast announced New ROI measurement capabilities through a partnership with Nielsen. YouTube shared evolution of
its Google Preferred offerings, including a revised scoring system (called the “P-Score”) to include higher production values and TV popularity, as well as more precise targeting through audience guarantees and show-level exclusions.

KEY TAKEAWAY

With the continued expansion of platforms such as OTT/CTV, Podcasts/Audio, and Live Streaming Events to maintain and grow audience engagement a greater need for measurement exists – while partner specific solutions are not the end all be all, they give brands an opportunity to better inform planning and optimization.

The Power of Podcasts; Second Coming of Audio

Podcasts breed a unique sense of trust unlike any other format. The ability to convey tone makes it more engaging than print, the way consumers seek out the content makes it more trustworthy than TV, and the personal connection makes it more authentic than digital.

This year, we saw several presenters share new audio components and features,
including The New York Times who announced new storytelling experiences such as Alexa voice skillset development and podcasts. BBC News talked about its “Project Songbird” offering that provides users with automated audio versions of all BBC News’ online articles. And Verizon Media shared that Yahoo Finance is launching a new podcast slate that can be accessed directly and via audio inventory across Pandora, iHeart Radio and AdsWizz.

KEY TAKEAWAY

The resurgence of audio gives brands a opportunity to build a unique and authentic sonic identify – done right marketers have the ability to enhance perception, increase brand awareness, encourage customer engagement, and maximize return on investment.