NewFronts 2013: Will Money Shift To Web?

Throwing cold water on this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, some analysts doubt whether the glitzy events will have any tangible impact on video ad budgets.

“We doubt that meaningful ad budgets shift to the Web because of the presentations,” Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser warns in a new report. “Any indications around ad budget commitments emerging from these events are unlikely to reflect incremental ad spending.”

Just like the “upfront” events that TV networks have been hosting for years, the online media industry introduced the Digital Content NewFronts, last year, in an effort to secure advance ad sales for video content.

The problem, as Wieser sees it, is that the Web still lacks the measurement standards necessary to convince advertisers to commit TV-sized budgets.

“Nielsen's OCR and XCR is helpful, but Google's lack of use of the standard is a source of delay,” according to Wieser. “Agency-advertiser contracts need to better reflect execution costs associated with buying online video [and] workflows across platforms need to simplify.”

Despite its great promise, desktop and laptop viewing of video amounted to just 4.3% of TV viewing (among consumers who watch any online video), according to recent Nielsen data.

Universal McCann predicts that ad deals resulting from this year’s NewFronts could near $1 billion.

Skeptics, however, cite Pivotal Research data, which found that online video ad revenue amounted to $1.3 billion in 2012. That said, Wieser conceded that NewFront events can have the positive effect of deepening relationships between sellers and buyers.

But, Wieser reiterated, the NewFronts are “mostly a sideshow.”

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