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IAB Newfronts seeks to create a unified video marketplace

IAB Newfronts seeks to create a unified video marketplace

The Interactive Advertising Bureau will look to bring TV stalwarts into its NewFronts event, which has typically been a showcase for emerging digital players.

As network sellers grapple with how to pitch new content to the marketplace this spring, a time historically dedicated to glitzy dog-and-pony shows followed by elaborate cocktail parties, the IAB sees an opportunity to bring both marketplaces together for one event.

COVID-19 updated the traditional upfronts, forcing networks to cancel their usual presentations, with some hosting virtual events instead. With the pandemic still real and evolving, it’s unlikely the industry will be able to resume presentations in Carnegie Hall and the Beacon Theatre in 2021.

“It is wet cement,” says David Cohen, CEO, IAB, referring to the uncertainty around just how the upfront presentations will be executed next year.

The trade organization sees this as an opportunity to evolve the NewFronts—launched in 2008 as a way for digital video to steal share of TV dollars—to include all types of video.

On the agency side, Cohen says from the top down he has received support for one marketplace. “Two bifurcated marketplaces make no sense,” he says.

While agency executives might be eager to combine the two marketplaces—and eliminate extra events—it remains to be seen if media behemoths including Walt Disney and ViacomCBS will bite. While the digital arms of such companies have presented during the NewFronts, content on linear channels is reserved for much greater fanfare.

But with these companies putting their streaming businesses at the center of their organizations, how they present content to the marketplace may need to take a new form.

Cohen acknowledges a shift to one large event likely won’t happen in 2021, but he hopes to take the first steps towards that end.

The NewFronts, which are expected to once again be virtual, will kick off on May 3, with the podcast upfront moving to the week of May 10.