What's The Point of NewFronts, Anyway?

Gees, I know you expect a lot of trenchant analysis in this space, but at the moment I’m at MediaPost’s excellent  OMMA Video conference, which is a real treasure trove of info. But I’m also a kind of host of the thing, so it’s tough to squeeze the time here to tell you much about it.

Cool time here. A good panel, just concluded, tried to assess the success/failure of the NewFronts, and moderator Mike Bloxham, executive director  for marketing at the Media Behavior Institute took it a step further by asking the panelists if those great big sales parties are really necessary. (He pointed to a recent letter in Adweek in which big agency types very politely asked that question and others.)

Without digital scarcity there’s not a need to commit to much.  But, argued Alexis Josephs, vice president of East Coast sales for VEVO, that’s not quite true. She argues that her brand does have a scarcity play—it delivers 18-34s in ways other media can’t, she said, and ditto with Hispanic young adults.  “We love where NewFronts is situated [around the TV Upfronts] because we are a television complement,” she says.

Chris Raleigh, SVP of Ad Sales at the Weather Company, says NewFronts gives the digital side of that company a chance to show how its platform fits into the whole package.  But really, did they have to be there separate of their TV –side parent? Maybe not.    

Adam Potashnick, senior partner at Mediacom, the sales guy on the panel, admitted there wasn’t much urgency at NewFronts, but defended them, too, as a place ad buyers can figure where in the world to put their digital dollars, or dimes, or whatever. The fact is, there’s too much digital video to choose from and he thinks NewFronts helps make clear a kind of clutterered landscape of choices. “Fewer is definitely better in the digital market,” he said. “You definitely have to focus your investment.“

He said many buyers getting hit up at NewFronts were there to buy, but that “many, many more” were there just to observe what’s happening.  But the fact seems to be that if television is going to spend a week in front of ad agencies, digital content creators better be there too, even if their ad metrics are confusing and they have all the inventory in the world.  Said Josephs, it was interesting that among the presenters at NewFronts were NBC and CBS. That must mean something.

ANOTHER THING: Another presenter, Caitlin Burke, the senior marketing manager for media and branded entertainment at Subway, dropped a teeny bit of news: There’s a chance the surprisingly popular Hulu sponsored-content thingee, “The 4 to 9ers” that is going into its second season of mini-episodes (the first one attracted five million views) may morph into a fully-blown series on cable. What’s unique about Subway’s approach to buying its own content is that it’s not nutty enough to create commercials that it pretends is programming. “The 4 to 9ers,” about young workers at a Subway shop, lets them make light of their less-than-glam job--but it also points out the thousands of ways a sandwich and its ingredients can be combined.  Clever and heart-healthy. That’s good.

Gotta run.            

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