IAB NewFronts 2021 Recap

Dominic Johnson
May 13, 2021
The IAB NewFronts had various ad tech companies, publishers, networks, and streaming platforms present across a wide variety of topics, but the biggest talk was clearly streaming and high-quality content.

What is the IAB NewFronts?

Recap of the IAB NewFronts

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) hosted their digital NewFronts event on May 3 – May 6. Much like the television upfronts where TV networks pack theaters with media buyers to showcase their programming for the upcoming year, the NewFronts had a similar intent but a different focus. It was a full week of webinar presentations that were focused on the digital realm, specifically how it is growing and what offerings are available for advertisers to utilize.

There was a wide range of presenters from social media platforms, brand safety partners, television and print stalwarts, and streaming services. While the presenters varied in their specialties, there were three main threads that made their way into most presentations:

  1. Advertisers should appear on high-quality content, with partners that have access to a large, varied library of it
  2. As cookies are devalued, advertisers must know of a partner’s unique targeting offerings
  3. Streaming video has grown tremendously over the past year, and the various streaming platforms and services are reacting accordingly

What do marketers need to know from the NewFronts presentations?

With 38 presentations over four days, it all couldn’t be covered in one blog post. So what were the most important takeaways from the biggest presenters?

  • Tubi and Amazon were the first presenters who really hammered home the focus on streaming and content. Tubi, the largest free ad-supported streaming service (purchased by Fox in April 2020), touted that 68% of their viewers aren’t found on other streaming platforms — an interesting value proposition for advertisers trying to focus their ad dollars on reaching as many consumers as possible. Much like Hulu, Peacock, and others, Tubi let the audience know that they too were developing original episode content this year that can only be found on Tubi.
  • Amazon talked largely about their streaming offerings as well, but the focus wasn’t on Prime Video (which is not ad-supported). Instead, Amazon played up IMDB TV and Twitch and the advertising opportunities and original content that lie there. Like all streaming platforms, IMDB TV obviously has standard :15 and :30 second inventory to run on TV and movie content, but it also has the ability to add the product name and review score to let people know your product is available on Amazon. It should be noted that IMDB TV inventory can only be bought through the Amazon DSP at this time, which the Collective Measures team can access through our Internal Trade Desk.
  • Peacock, NBC’s new streaming platform, was the darling of NBCUniversal’s presentation, highlighting the service’s growth in users in its first year. The biggest Peacock news is that it will soon open up ad inventory to programmatic DSPs, making it easier for more advertisers to appear on the streaming service through buying platforms like The Trade Desk. While Peacock was the shiny object, another interesting aspect of the presentation was their ‘ONE Platform,’ which allows advertisers to appear on every NBCUniversal-owned property across any device, with NBCU claiming that consumers love their various networks for their high-quality content.
  • Publishing giants Condé Nast and Meredith similarly focused on the content available from their various well-known publications. Condé Nast noted that audiences don’t focus on what a platform is appearing on, they focus on the quality of the content. If the content is strong, people will find it and love it! To help advertisers appear alongside that content, Condé Nast talked about their “Influence Network” to do that, similar to NBCU’s ONE Platform. Meredith also focused heavily on targeting capabilities. With billions of interactions from consumers on their sites, Meredith has the data necessary to create audience segments that are not built on cookies. This significantly increases its value as cookies are phased out.
  • YouTube held their Brandcast presentation during IAB NewFronts week as well, letting viewers know that streaming video content is growing and YouTube is still the #1 video content provider. One big callout from YouTube was that the devices on which people are watching YouTube are changing: more people are streaming YouTube on their televisions than ever before. Between YouTube proper, YouTube Shorts Player, YouTube Originals, and YouTube TV, the company is clearly investing in what they called “the living room” experience being as strong as possible. And in terms of new ad types, YouTube will soon be offering brand extensions that let consumers learn more about a product without interrupting what they are watching.

In summary

The biggest takeaway after a week of presentations? Advertisers have more options than ever to reach their target audience, whether it is new streaming services or growing websites. This makes it critically important to have a strategic approach to identifying the partners, platforms, and services that are best suited for each specific campaign and its goals. This includes not only picking the right content to advertise on but finding partners who can provide unique and precise targeting offerings — especially as third-party cookies are phased out.

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