Magazine article Variety

Digital Mavens Gather Their Best Pitches

Magazine article Variety

Digital Mavens Gather Their Best Pitches

Article excerpt

Barring any last-minute defections, NewFronts organizers will have successfully avoided the turmoil leading up to last year's digital content hypefest, when a series of bigname companies dropped out or dramatically scaled down their involvement before the event got under way.

Digital players such as Hulu, YouTube and Vice are all slated to pitch Madison Avenue power brokers at this year's slimmed down NewFronts, which kick off April 30 as a complement to TV's annual upfronts. This year's lineup is smaller overall but more tightly focused on premium content companies, according to Anna Bager, exec VP of industry initiatives for organizer Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The IAB polled members after last year's NewFronts and downsized the New York portion to one week, shifting the second half of the annual gathering to L.A. in October.

"The general feedback was that two weeks is too much - too many presentations," she says. The scaled-back New York event "should be easier to digest."

Founding partners Yahoo and AOL will once again present their programming wares at the event, albeit in the merged form of Verizon-owned Oath. "And Vice is back," she notes of the edgy digital company absent from this year's preliminary lineup following founder-evangelist Shane Smith's decision to skip his company's event last year.

Twitter, which stepped into Yahoo's open slot last year, is also returning, and will be joined by newcomers Viacom and ESPN. BBC News, Disney Digital Network and Conde Nast will also present. BuzzFeed and Warner Digital Network, two of last year's pullouts, have not signed up for this year's festivities, however.

Those onboard are heading to NewFronts with growth - and in some cases cachet - on their side, but their share of challenges as well: Pressures to monetize content and ensure security online are escalating in the digital marketplace.

Topics including these, as well as the challenge of innovating for alwaysthere audiences, will be addressed at Variety's Entertainment and Technology Summit N.Y. on May 4 at Mandarin Oriental, planned in conjunction with the NewFronts; speakers include HBO CEO Richard Plepler, AMC Networks president Charlie Collier and CNN's Don Lemon.

Most of all, digital video outlets want to wow buyers and snare their share of growing online ad coin: Total digital ad spending is projected to climb 18.7% to $107.3 billion in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer's forecast issued in late March. …

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