At NewFronts, Platforms Stress Terms And Format Flexibility During Upheaval

Not surprisingly, given the social and business upheaval in the past few months, the words and phrases most heard during the first day of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s first online NewFronts were “diversity,” “flexibility” and “viewer-first.”

The first two are fairly self-explanatory, while the underlying promise of “viewer-first” is using viewer data to deliver viewer-friendly advertising experiences.

With the spotlight on racial prejudice engrained in practices across all businesses, including advertising and media, IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg, in his keynote kicking off the week-long event, urged the industry to embrace diversity and inclusion in action, not just words.

“Taking down statues is a good thing. But we can also build new monuments, and that’s better,” he said. “I want to use the NewFronts platform to encourage you to build.” 

Rothenberg pointed out that the IAB offered college students, with emphasis on traditionally black colleges, free passes to attend the virtual NewFronts; is opening its lab training programs free to those in the industry who have been thrown out of work through year-end; and is instituting a “Change Equity Program” in which all IAB staff will be given two days per month of PTO time dedicated to volunteer for civil justice, charitable or political work.

Roku Offers Top 1% Deal, Stresses ‘Agile’ Upfront

Roku, which kicked off the NewFront presentations, promoted Roku Reserve, a deal available only in the current Upfront, in which buyers can secure guaranteed placement in Roku’s top 1% of channels: those with the most clicks and biggest streaming audiences.

Its pitch for “agile” Upfront commitments during a time when advertisers want maximum flexibility in buys and creative also highlighted offerings including full cancellations within 14 days, and flexibility to change the business line or brand within a plan.

Roku also touted its incremental reach guarantee, which promises that through Roku’s automated content recognition database capabilities, marketers never have to pay for reaching an OTT household/impression also reached through linear TV.

The company reinforced capabilities and offerings already unveiled in the past month or some time ago, including its relaunched platform, OneView, designed to enable programmatic, performance-based measurement for streaming and OTT campaigns, and its integration of Kroger shopper data and analytics into the platform.

On the data front, it emphasized its abilities to use its massive database and analytics to identify and target hard-to-reach segments (such as reaching sports fans through other programming during the live-sports shutdown) and to track nuanced trends and audience behaviors as the pandemic evolves (such as zeroing in on states and even Zipcodes currently in shutdown, where streaming time rises, as opposed to spending against reaching the same target audience in neighboring states or regions that have opened up).

Hulu Intros ‘GatewayGo’ Format

Hulu’s unveiling of a direct-response ad format dubbed GatewayGo was among the bigger announcements made during the day, although it was actually unveiled during Disney’s separate corporate online presentation.

The new format uses QR codes and push notices to allow viewers to interact with an ad, then access “personalized” offers or make purchases on a phone or other second screen — thereby making Hulu more attractive to “performance”-focused advertisers that traditionally rely on digital campaigns. Brands participating at launch include SweetGreen, The RealReal and SmileDirectClub.

Hulu emphasized the potential lift in results through its innovative ad formats — including pause ads and binge ads -- and the creative possibilities being opened up by CTV, where viewer data enables tactics that include tailoring ad messaging to the mood of a specific show.

Hulu also said it will enhance planners’ reach calculation capabilities across the Disney Advertising Sales platform by integrating Nielsen’s Media Impact tool.

As of October 1, Disney Hulu XP will enable advertisers to access the entire Disney platform — Hulu’s 83 million AVOD viewers plus Disney’s video inventory, for total reach of 284 million consumers per month. The offering includes incremental addressable reach and enhanced targeting options.

Tubi Touts Direct-to-DSPs Ad Tech

Tubi, acquired by Fox in March, focused on its expanded offerings via Fox content (20,000 titles); its large and diverse audience, its lack of overlap with linear (80% to 90% of its audience can’t be reached through linear); and its ad tech.

The AVOD boasted that by integrating directly with DSPs, its platform enables greater control and efficiency.

Specifically, eliminating the layers of “middlemen” allows advertisers to solve a major remaining hang-up with OTT: ad repetition.

A new algorithm-driven “advanced frequency” system in Tubi’s platform enables it to scan and compare all ad creative to eliminate unwanted ad repetition to the same household and cap ad frequency.

Advertisers that use its platform can also continue to buy through aggregators, with assurance that repetition will be taken care of, according to Tubi — which claimed to have seen reach increases of up to 300% through use of the frequency tool.

Crackle Plus Stresses Viewer-Friendly Ad Formats

Crackle — renamed Crackle Plus since its 2019 acquisition by Chicken Soup For The Soul Entertainment — also touted its flexibility, lack of redundant reach (less than 10% overlap with viewers of the top 10 linear traditional TV networks) and “viewer first” strategy.

That includes a limited ad load (10 minutes per hour); data-driven ad targeting (including ability to onboard clients’ proprietary data); and use of FreeView, based on technology pioneered by TrueX. With FreeView, an interactive ad runs at the front of a video stream, and viewers then watch the content commercial-free.

Crackle is also offering Jumbotron, which features an advertiser’s short-form video or a full episode of a sponsored show on its home page.

Samsung Ads also presented on Day One of the NewFronts — see separate MediaPost coverage.

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