In 2003, while working at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, I remember various colleagues debating whether there should be an upfront for online advertising. Of course, at that time, we were still in the midst of trying to convince the ad industry that they needed to BE online and that online advertising was effective – never mind anything about making upfront budget commitments.
But after a decade of steady progress and revenue growth for online advertising, the internet commands nearly 30% of the daily time spent with media (per eMarketer), and digital video controls an ever-increasing share of time online. Thinking back to those conversations a decade ago, it was especially gratifying for me to witness the second annual NewFronts.
Here’s what we saw at this year’s NewFronts:
Video, Video, Video: All of the players at the NewFronts recognize that the biggest opportunity to attract upfront advertiser dollars is with video. Consumers have demonstrated that their interests range beyond Gangnam Style and funny cat videos – digital video can be anything from long-form movies and series to snack-sized bites of entertainment. Online video opens the door for different types of entertainment than what would work on broadcast. When you’re waiting at the airport or Doctor’s office, a five-minute long clip feels just right. Yahoo’s “Losing Your Virginity With Jon Stamos” (in which the actor interviews other celebrities about their first time) is the type of concept that should work well online in short form but is difficult to imagine as a half-hour program.
Original Content Matters: As cable grew in the ‘80’s, cable networks filled their schedules with hours of reruns to compete for viewers. As their ratings and revenue grew, they began to invest to create their own original programs. Online publishers are pursuing a similar path, but right out of the gate are focused on original content.While Crackle can tap the vast content library of Sony for episodes of “Rescue Me” and “The Shield,” they are also shooting season 2 of Jerry Seinfeld’s web-exclusive “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. Others, particularly Google, are marching to their own tune of the user-generated-content school. After their huge investment last year to create around 100 new channels of professionally produced content, this years’ NewFront was more about the back-to-basics YouTube stars, like Kid President. Whether it’s professional or user-generated, original content is what drives viewership online.
The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: I am sure I was not the only ad executive at Vevo’s presentation marveling that it felt like MTV‘s beginning, from the standpoint of how it focused on music as the passion at the center of everyone’s life. The niche that MTV so fully filled in the ‘80’s is now thoroughly embraced and supported by Vevo for a new generation. This was a vibe I sensed over the week at the NewFronts – if Netflix aspires to be HBO, Hulu and Crackle aspire to be USA and TNT.
What did you see at the NewFronts and how do you think they will impact your marketing plan?