Insights From the 2013 NewFronts

Pundits covering the media and marketing industries haven’t agreed on what the NewFronts — digital media’s answer to the traditional upfronts — mean for the industry. That didn’t stop us from attending this year’s presentations and attempting to make sense of it all.

NewFronts ≠ New Upfronts
To broadcast media buyers, the NewFronts may seem to be an identical version of the upfronts. Media companies or broadcast networks share their programming and visions for the upcoming broadcast year; buyers assess programming; and then buyers and networks agree, or disagree, on pricing for budgets that will be laid out for the year.

Digital media buyers know that’s not necessarily the case. There’s only a small sample of companies represented in the weeklong presentation schedule. The roster includes some vendors, some agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. This is significantly different from the broadcast upfronts where all the networks are represented. While there is hope from media companies that advertisers will make large purchases covering multiple quarters — similar to how media is purchased during the television upfronts — the digital media space isn’t there quite yet.

TV & Online Video Converging, not Competing
There’s also the much-discussed concept of multiscreen viewing. Depending on which side of the track you fall, on-air or online, you may read “television is dead” or “cord cutting will be the new norm.” Instead, we see TV and online video merging together as one. As the online video space continues to grow, relationships will blossom, and the lines between on-air and online will continue to blur.

This year marked the first time content created for the Web jumped to a television network. “Burning Love” premiered on Yahoo and aired a full season online. Due to its overwhelming popularity, it was picked up by E! where it is airing a complete season during prime-time. With the huge amount of original online series previewed at this year’s NewFronts — most of which are backed by high-profile stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow and Eva Longoria — there’s no telling how many new relationships will form.

“Digital media buyers should concentrate on purchasing content that hits a particular target,
versus focusing on which screen the content will be displayed.”

Think Content, Not Device
Digital video has “revolutionized the way we ignore our families,” Seth Meyers quipped at Hulu’s NewFront presentation. We are a multidevice, on-demand culture that is increasingly changing the way we consume all types of content. We think about what content we’re wanting to access, not how we’re going to access it. Some brands and agencies get this. Everyone else had better catch up — and soon — or be left behind.

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Katie Unkraut
Katie Unkraut