UPDATED AT 6:15 PM to incorporate comment from the IAB.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau has dramatically scaled back this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, paring the schedule to a week of presentations instead of the usual two.
At the same time, the organization said it would host a new West Coast showcase at the end of the year in Los Angeles.
“We’ve done extensive research and we think this is a great idea,” said Anna Bager, executive vice president of industry initiatives for IAB. “I wouldn’t say this is a scaling back, it’s an evolution.”
There has been a gathering debate about the value of hosting a digital equivalent of television’s glitzy Upfront presentations. Last year, a number of prominent digital players withdrew, including BuzzFeed, Stylehaul and Machinima. Some, like Fullscreen, opted to host a series of small presentations instead.
Other publishers that have been staples in years past, including founding members Yahoo and AOL, have been acquired. Both of these venerable web brands will be represented this year by corporate parent Verizon’s Oath.
Still, this year’s NewFront will feature a number of recognizable participants: Google/YouTube, Hulu, BBC News, Conde Nast, Disney Digital Network, The New York Times, Twitter and others.
IAB has scheduled 17 presentations scheduled for April 30-May 4 in New York, down from 35 last year. The NewFronts were launched in 2012 to promote the value of digital platforms to media buyers and brands — an message Madison Avenue has heard, loud and clear. Digital ad spending reached $209 billion worldwide in 2017, while TV brought in $178 billion, according to Magna, the research arm of media buying firm IPG Mediabrands.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s so much negativity around the NewFronts, which were designed to celebrate the market where clearly the viewers are,” said Bager.
The IAB had received feedback from its members that the two-week-long NewFronts were exhausting, especially with timing that wedged it between the cable and broadcast Upfront presentations, Bager said. In response, it shortened the duration of the spring presentations and scheduled a second showcase on the West Coast in the fall, to reflect the way digital video is now sold “in a premium way, across the whole year.”
“We’re very excited about it,” she said. “And we’ve gotten great feedback on it.”