Apr 25, 2019

The Digital Content NewFronts take place from April 29 to May 3 in New York City.

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Americans spend more than 15 hours per month watching online video, which is why in 2008, a new event called the Digital Content NewFronts was created to focus on trends and programming announcements from the industry’s most prominent publishers.

The NewFronts are an outgrowth of the traditional television Upfronts, where broadcast and cable networks reveal their upcoming slate of shows to advertisers. Initially, the NewFronts were meant to be an anti-Upfronts event, where those passionate about digital video could discuss the ever-evolving and increasingly popular digital video movement. But as online video became big business, the NewFronts morphed into a series of events that’s much more similar to the Upfronts, with media companies staging their NewFronts presentations to promote the digital content to an audience of advertisers, marketers, and press.

What it is:

The NewFronts are a chance for companies to show off their upcoming digital content in front of advertisers.

The event features thought leadership on current trends and issues within the industry, as well as presentations from distributors on content that buyers could put their advertising dollars behind. Entrance is invite-only, and thousands of creators and marketers attend.

Companies will often bring in artists to perform and talent to talk about upcoming projects. For example, at YouTube’s NewFront in 2018, Ariana Grande and Camila Cabello performed. At Viacom’s first NewFronts presentation last year brought Liza Koshy, JoJo Siwa, and Arturo Castro to the stage.

In 2018, NewFronts launched a West Coast version, called NewFronts West, which was focused on branded content, sponsors, influencers and talent in Los Angeles.

How it started:

Digitas executives John McCarus and Jordan Bitterman pitched an idea for a digital-focused conference in 2008 and months later, the Digitas NewFronts kicked off their first event in downtown Manhattan. The event had already been in motion, thanks to Mark Beeching, Digitas’ global chief creative officer, and Stephanie Sarofian, SVP and managing director, who had been pushing an branded content studio, The Third Act, since 2006. Their idea was approved by former Digitas CEO David Kenny and the NewFronts have happened annually ever since. In 2012, Digitas enlisted help from big players like Google/YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, Hulu and Verizon Media to host their own events, and in the following year, IAB took over the hosting reigns.

Sarofian told Digiday in 2018 that the event has changed “a lot” in recent years by focusing more on deal-making than education and partnership.

“The early days NewFront was a conversation,” Paul Kontonis, CMO of Viacom’s Whosay, told Digiday. “It was, let’s show that digital is the real thing. It wasn’t about the brands in the room.” He previously served as group director of Digitas’ brand division.

Why is it important:

At the NewFronts, brand marketers, advertisers, reporters and agency executives are all in the same room. The event has transformed into a marketplace for the digital era. As more big media companies make big investments in digital content and advertising, this kind of event enables distributors to let marketers and industry professionals present their offerings.

“We have been building to this point, where we feel like there is a new story for us to tell [with Viacom Digital Studios],” Kelly Day, president of Viacom Digital Studios, told Digiday regarding Viacom’s NewFronts presentation last year. “And this is the right time and right venue and the right way to pull everything together and deliver that message to our constituents.”

Day added that traditional media companies are taking digital more seriously at that’s why more of them are showing up at NewFronts this year.

Key players:

This year, the following companies will make presentations to top media industry players:

  • Viacom
  • Hulu
  • Target
  • ESPN
  • Vice
  • Meredith
  • The New York Times
  • Vudu (A Walmart company)
  • YouTube
  • Ellen Digital Network
  • Verizon Media
  • Twitter
  • Conde Nast
  • BBC News
  • Studio 71

What’s new this year:

This will be the first year that IAB will host the NewFronts Insights Symposium, which will take place on the final day of NewFronts, May 3. The event will feature thought leadership, discussion and new research on how the video marketplace is evolving.

When and where is this happening:

NewFronts takes place across New York City from April 29 to May 3. Viacom’s presentation is being held at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, other companies will be scattered for their respective presentations.


Pictured: Arturo Castro of Comedy Central's "Broad City" and the upcoming sketch comedy series, "Alternatino with Arturo Castro," during the 2018 Viacom NewFronts presentation.