The Interactive Advertising Bureau's Digital Content NewFronts is an eight-day conference allowing publishers and agencies to showcase new products to advertisers and other publishers. The annual event always brings interesting developments for the marketing industry, and this year was no exception.
Publishers and agencies alike had big announcements for their NewFronts presentations. Here are six that could have the biggest impact for marketers.
Marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi made a splash at NewFronts with three separate — and equally huge — announcements. The first was the new “BuzzFeed in Residence” program, which will see a team of marketing-side BuzzFeeders move into DigitasLBi's New York offices to form an in-house content creation team. The idea, of course, is that close quarters will foster better collaboration.
DigitasLBi also announced a partnership with content analytics platform SimpleReach. Together, the two firms are releasing the NewFronts Brand Content Index — a system that will help brands compare their digital stats to other brands across the Internet. The platform will allow brands to compare pageviews, shares, traffic from social, time spent, unique viewers, and more. The index will initially be exclusively offered to DigitasLBi customers through the end of 2014, after which it will be open to outside brands.
Finally, the agency announced it would be the first agency partner for YouTube’s recently announced “Google Preferred” product, which allows brands and advertisers to target the top 5% of YouTube videos. DigitasLBi has agreed to purchase ads through Google Preferred for its clients.
The Wall Street Journal #wsjrightnow event showcased the business-focused newspaper's new plan for premium video content. The format will include a wide variety of video features, including data-driven short pieces, long-form pieces, documentary-style series, and a tech and lifestyle video magazine called Signal.
The point of showcasing the new video content at NewFronts was to prove to advertisers that the paper still has innovation top of mind. For many advertisers, The Wall Street Journal is strongly tied to print and pulp — not innovative video content. Particularly, the publication wanted to show it’s not just business and finance, that it covers a spectrum of human interest and global issues. The content is already off to a solid start, with 18,000 videos and 480 million video streams coming from WSJ in 2013.
At Hulu’s presentation, the streaming service didn’t have a lot of announced it would double its content marketing budget in the coming year. Additionally, it introduced new CEO Mike Hopkins and announced the renewal of all five original series launched in 2013. But the most interesting announcement was its new ad partnership with Pizza Hut.
Hulu and Pizza Hut have put together an ad product that allows viewers to order a pizza directly through the online ad. No longer will binge-watching subscribers have to stall their marathons to pick up a phone (or go to the chain's site) and order a pizza. The Pizza Hut ad will let users seamlessly place an order while they watch. It’s a bit gimmicky, but also a sort of genius idea that will run for both paid and free Hulu viewers.
Microsoft’s announcements were all filtered through its plans for its Xbox gaming system. The tech giant is planning to release interactive content with Hollywood-level production and budgets, dubbed “Xbox Originals.” For example, it showcased an original film called “Possibilia,” produced by big-name directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott and will only air on Microsoft systems. What differentiates “Possibilia” from other original content is its interactive features that allow viewers to choose, say, how the romantic couple in the film will break up.
Microsoft is hoping to bring in ad dollars by showcasing its innovation in interactive TV and reach those brands that want to try something different. It has heavy competition, however, from other TV-on-demand competitors — especially considering an Xbox retails for around $499.
Yahoo has been under a magnifying glass the past few years as CEO Marissa Mayer spearheads efforts to turn the online company — its ad business in particular — around. At NewFronts, Yahoo explained how it plans to compete for TV ad dollars with new original programming and video ad products.
The original content comes in the form of two original series. One is a sci-fi comedy called “Other Space,” created by the director of the hit film “Bridesmaids.” The other original series, “Sin City Saints,” is the brain-child of “Varsity Blues” Producer Mike Tollin and “The Office” Director Bryan Gordon. “Sin City Saints” is a workplace comedy set in the office of a professional basketball team.
Along with the original series, Yahoo released two new ad products to help draw advertisers. The first is a 15-second video spot that displays on Yahoo’s login page, dubbed Full Page Video Login Ads. The ads will appear both on mobile and desktop. Splash Ads, on the other hand, are an interactive product that will run within Yahoo’s digital magazine content feeds.
Online video publisher Crackle signed its first NewFronts partnership deal with Publicis agency Spark. Crackle was founded in the early 2000s as a YouTube clone, but has since rebranded. Now, in addition to carrying various feature-length films and network television shows, Crackle creates its own original video programming, including an upcoming series titled “Throwaways” starring Bryan Cranston of AMC’s super-hit “Breaking Bad.”
The deal with Spark gives the agency first choice of Crackle’s original programming for clients like Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher’s, Slim Jim, Hebrew National, Hanes, E*Trade, and Ace Hardware. Spark will be able to buy, integrate, and measure digital video in the same way it does traditional TV for its clients.
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