With each passing year, digital content and original video become larger and more indispensable parts of our everyday lives. As publishers like The New York Times, Refinery29, and National Geographic endeavor to create new and compelling video content that drives digital media forward, platforms like YouTube, Hulu, and Twitter are finding new ways to bring that content to users. Brands and advertisers are paying close attention to both, finding opportunities to connect with audiences through the most successful digital media efforts.
The Digital Content NewFronts, an event held by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, exists to bring publishers, platforms, brands, and agencies together to discuss and shape the future of digital media.
Just as the television industry has its Upfronts, where networks meet with advertisers and the press to discuss upcoming programming to jumpstart advertising sales and publicity, the NewFronts is the premier opportunity for publishers and platforms in digital media to promote upcoming content, strategies, and advertising opportunities.
The NewFronts focuses on digital content rather than the television industry but exists for the same reason that Upfront events exist — to connect content creators and platforms with brands and advertisers. It’s becoming a key component of the symbiotic relationship between publishers and advertisers that keeps digital media alive and allows it to continue progressing. There’s a lot of focus on original video, but the NewFronts focuses on a wide variety of topics in digital media, including the role of emerging technology like virtual reality in digital content.
The NewFronts primary attendees are publishers, brands, and agencies. All attending with different goals and intentions, these entities come together to shape the future of advertising in the context of digital content. Among the presenters at this year’s NewFronts are The New York Times, Condé Nast, Hearst, National Geographic, YouTube, Hulu, Warner Brothers, Twitter, and Disney/Maker Studios.
Brands, agencies, and media buyers make up the other half of the NewFronts equation. Top brands and advertisers attend the NewFronts to hear pitches from presenters and to connect with content creators that are ideally positioned to help them reach their target audiences.
Presenters use the NewFronts to highlight what’s next for their digital content efforts. These presenters might use presentations to talk about new series, the intersection of technology and storytelling, distribution strategies, and the best ways reach audiences in an increasingly crowded digital marketplace. Publishers, like networks at the Upfront events, are at the NewFronts to showcase new or upcoming content and to promote buying opportunities for advertisers.
Brands and agencies use the NewFronts to get a glimpse of new opportunities in branded content, new applications of emerging technologies that have branded components, and new trends surfacing in digital media advertising. Advertisers look to NewFronts presentations to help them make decisions about where to invest and how best to reach their intended audiences.
The NewFronts programming schedule is made up presentations, which may include previews of content and discussions around how presenters like YouTube and Mashable are planning to use technology to strengthen their digital platforms and creations. Much like Upfront events, though, the presentations are only part of the event itself. A key component of the NewFronts is the opportunity for advertisers and publishers to connect and discuss topics in digital content.
As technology changes, digital content has to progress in order to keep up. The NewFronts highlight the importance of digital advertising and the creative connection between advertising and the content itself. Brands are looking for new ways to interact with audiences through the most exciting and innovative storytelling efforts of publishers.
Original video is taking advantage of new technology (360-degree filming capabilities and VR are always popular topics), but many publishers are also innovating the ways that they approach branded or sponsored content and the use of onscreen talent and influencers in their original content. Time Inc. is creating its own influencer network to strengthen the value proposition of its branded content. The New York Times acquired HelloSociety, an influencer marketing agency. Influencers are at the very core of YouTube’s brand. As digital content continues to evolve, it seems exceedingly likely that more publishers and brands will find new ways to tap influencers to amplify their messages and better reach audiences in more natural, more native ways.
Brands, publishers, and advertisers attend and present at the NewFronts because it’s a prime opportunity to create partnerships between creators and brands. Consumers expect digital content from major publishers to be original, to push boundaries, and to make use of new technologies. In order to connect with audiences and hold their attention, advertisers need to become a part of the digital content that consumers are looking for. The NewFronts create a chance for brands and content creators to make deals but to collaborate and build the future of digital media.