America's online video portals — AOL, Google and YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft Advertising including MSN, and Yahoo! — are once again locking arms to muscle in on the U.S. TV upfront marketplace by touting their web video programming in a collaborative series of presentations orchestrated by Digitas.
The brands are taking turns in a roundrobin pitch to ad agencies, media buyers and brand marketers during the fourth annual Digital Content NewFronts, taking place in New York over two weeks, from April 19th to May 2nd.
The objective: woo a bigger slice of marketing dollars from TV to their respective online video and digital content hubs.
The opportunity: With online ad spending projected to grow 23% in 2012 to $39.5 billion in the U.S., and online video ad spending in the U.S. expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2015, up from $2.16 billion in 2011 (per eMarketer), the DCNF mission is “to shape a new and practical marketplace for connecting the wealth of native digital content with brand marketers and their media and marketing agencies. In other words, a 'newfront' where 'Brands, meet Content.'"
For an example of one pitch, check out actress Felicia Day's video above, which will help tell the Microsoft Advertising Story showcasing "our innovative advertising solutions and illustrating how we can help you tell your brand story." The video highlights IAB Filmstrip, mobile advertising, Skype and Xbox . Microsoft is also engaging marketers with the Microsoft Advertising Story Awards (entries due by March 31st).
Launched in 2009, The NewFront, hosted by Digitas, is billed as "an industry-leading event bringing together content creators, distributors, talent, and brands to harness content opportunities in a post-advertising marketplace."
A comment from each representative of each Founding Partner is represented on the DCNF Steering Committee:
● AOL: Janet Balis—SVP, Head of Sales Strategy, Marketing and Partnerships: "We are excited to see the major players across the competitive landscape make native digital content a priority.”
● Digitas: Mark Beeching—Chief Global Creative and Strategy Director (and Founder of Digitas NewFront and The Third Act): “There is an urgency to invest in quality content at scale. The DCNF is established as a direct result of the growing impact of digital content on consumers, and therefore brands, their investments and agencies.” Colin Kinsella, CEO, Digitas North America.
● Google/YouTube: Suzie Reider—Global Head of Industry Development: "We're really looking forward to meeting with our clients in May, to talk about brand building opportunities across Google and YouTube. We think this series of events will be a great forum for important industry discussions and we look forward to advancing the conversation.” Lucas Watson, VP global video sales, YouTube.
● Hulu: Bryan Thoensen— Director of Integrated Marketing: "Today, the word ‘TV’ has taken on new meaning - as a bar for quality of storytelling. The use of the word ‘TV’ no longer refers to a piece of hardware. We are investing in smart and distinctive content – compelling storytelling is what makes great TV.” JP Colaco, SVP Advertising, Hulu.
● IAB: Randall Rothenberg — President and CEO: "The time is absolutely right for original digital video content to be offered up in an industry upfront marketplace. Americans are consuming it on multiple screens. The medium is creating stars in comedy, sports, music, and drama - and the enormous investment in quality content will create even more. Advertisers are salivating at the prospect to marry great story-telling to interactive capabilities. It's a perfect time for the digital industry to bring buyers and sellers together to make this market massive."
● Microsoft Advertising: Rick Song—General Manager, Eastern US: “We are thrilled to align our efforts and proud to participate as a ‘Founding Partner’ in the expanded format of the Digital Content NewFronts.”
● Yahoo!: Mickie Rosen—SVP, Yahoo! Media Network: “We’re proud to be a part of the Digital Content NewFronts, as we believe in its potential to push the boundaries of a growing consumer medium.”
The 2012 NewFront schedule:
• April 19: Hulu
• April 24: Microsoft
• April 24: AOL
• April 25: Yahoo!
• April 26: Digitas
• May 2: Google/YouTube
• The IAB will host "collateral events and forums" throughout the two-week period at the IAB Ad Lab.
On April 26th, by the way, the public can virtually attend the Digitas NewFront at noon EST on digitasnewfront.com, while following @Digitas and #NewFront on Twitter for live updates.