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6 reasons the 2013 NewFronts change the game for marketers

Posted by Bethany Simpson on May 1st, 2013 at 1:59 pm

"Digital video is the new cable." Marketers, it's time to pay close attention to what's happening at the NewFronts. Online video used to be a nice-to-have niche play in the marketing mix… but those days are past. Here are six reasons why this year's NewFronts change the game for marketers.

Editor's note: click here for full iMedia NewFront coverage.

1. Insane content
The quality of online video is through the roof. I'll post again soon about the best shows coming out of the NewFronts -- consumers are going to be blown away. If you're talking at all about native advertising or content marketing, you need to be looking closely at the current and upcoming online video offerings. And act fast, there are some painfully good opportunities available if you get there first.

2. The audiences are ready
Remember the terms cord cutters and cord nevers? This is a major factor in the surge of "OPOV" (online professional original videos -- see below). The IAB reports that 45 million U.S. viewers are watching OPOV each month. And that doesn't count TV online or UGC. That's 20% of the U.S. population. The IAB also reports increases in both overall online time spent, and a continued increase in mobile viewing.

Not surprisingly, viewers report the two leading reasons as: preferring to watch on their own schedule, and wanting to watch content about their hobbies and interests. (For more, see the full IAB report.) With the continual growth in mobile usage, this all points to a major industry shift for marketers to capitalize on.

3. Digital and TV have become friends

If you're looking at the NewFronts simply as an attempt to siphon TV spend into digital, you have a dated perspective. A new theme has entered the conversation this year, and that is the symbiotic relationship between OPOV and television. Look at all of the things NBC is doing in the online space; CBS's new online exclusives (e.g. "Baker Street Irregulars" that complements "Elementary"); Yahoo's partnerships with Saturday Night Live, ABC News, and others; HuffPo's cable deal with Mark Cuban's company AXS TV (formerly HDNet); and all of the shows that started online then moved to television… there's a back and forth going on that consumers like. Marketers should like it, too.

4. The metrics and standards have matured

"But the analytics aren't robust enough, yet." Not so fast. You want data? You want targeting? You want tools to help with attribution? Done. And with the IAB actively involved, the standards continue to mature, even when it comes to defining online video. Last year, the term online video referred to everything from YouTube UGC to Netflix exclusives like "Lilyhammer" and "Spy." This year, the IAB has broken online video into three categories:

  • TV online (Hulu, Netflix, ABC.com, etc.)
  • Online Professional Original Videos, or OPOV
  • UGC

Interestingly, the area in this space that's still in the process of maturing is the creatively and willingness you can get from content producers. (And that's a good thing.) Want Jane Lynch to do a spoof video where she tries on your jeans, drinks your soda, or uses your haircare product? Sponsor her show and she probably will.

5. Celebs. And more celebs.
Last year Felicia Day was the belle of the NewFront ball. And with good reason, her YouTube channel Geek & Sundry had over 400 thousand subscribers, and she was a pioneer in both the web series space ("The Guild"), and in web channel development. (A few other celebs popped up at the various NewFront events, but more tangentially: Piers Morgan hosted a Digitas panel, Microsoft invited Olympian Dominique Dawes to their stage, and everyone went gaga about a rumored animated series voiced by Seth Meyers.)

This year, celebs are in every headline. Here's the short list: Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Richie, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Spacey, Jane Lynch, Lisa Kudrow, LeBron James, John Stamos, Rob Huebel, Hank Azaria, Gwyneth Paltrow...

Consumers want stars in their digital vids? Done.

6. This shift is coming like a freight train
Condé Nast president Dawn Ostroff called digital "the new cable." That's the same thing I'm hearing in conversations with NATPE, publishers, producers, talent, and from people who have been in the industry for a long time. And major dollars are being invested. Just read the press releases coming out from AOL, Yahoo, Univision, and everyone other company on the NewFront roster this year. Ahem, even non-traditional video players The Weather Channel and The Wall Street Journal have entered the OPOV game. They did the numbers, and knew it was a smart investment.

The number of shows being announced is staggering, the caliber of talent and overall show quality is surprising, even to someone like myself who reads about these things. And frankly, marketers, I am here to sound the alarm: you need to be paying attention to this.

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