During the past two weeks, some of the biggest, blue-chip names in entertainment, news, and information, as well as many newer, cutting-edge content creators made announcements during the 2016 Digital Content NewFronts. Last week, we covered the biggest story from the fifth annual event: YouTube now reaches more 18-49 year olds than the top 10 primetime US TV shows. But, according to the IAB, about 300 other news stories were written about this year’s NewFronts. So, what were the top 10 other announcements? And, what should video marketers read into Facebook’s conspicuous absence from the 10-day marketplace for advertisers and media buyers? Let’s take a look at the other news from the NewFronts:
Big Brands are Seriously Investing in Online Video
The New York Times Announces New Video Series: NYT announced 6 new video series at its NewFronts presentation, which will cover music, science, travel, and sports.
Condé Nast Entertainment Expands Digital Video Network: Condé Nast Entertainment is expanding its premium digital video network, and investing in the next generation of storytelling talent, alongside its distribution partnership with Comcast.
Hulu Confirms +30% Growth in Subscribers: The premium on-demand streaming service announced that its subscriber base has grown over 30% year over year and will reach 12 million subscribers in the U.S. by this month.
Hearst Magazines Invests in Digital Video: Hearst Magazines Digital Media will be investing in video content featuring Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Esquire, and Harper’s BAZAAR. HMDM has increased monthly video views to more than 350 million. It is now producing 110 videos per week across every site and social platform, plus more than 200 Facebook Live broadcasts per month.
Fullscreen Rebrands as Fullscreen Media: The new three branches of Fullscreen Media will now include the Fullscreen Creator Network, Fullscreen Entertainment, and Fullscreen Brandworks.
Newsy announces Original Series: Over-the-top video news network Newsy is rolling out editorial content set to help brands reach a millennial audience. The network also announced “Asking For a Friend,” a humorous investigation series that will cover some controversial subjects.
Whistle Sports Unveils New Sports Content: Since 2014, has created over 75,000 videos that have generated over 3.1 billion views. Since expanding across Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, Instagram Video, and Twitter, its aggregate reach is now 72 million, and is growing by 2 million each week.
AwesomenessTV Builds New Content, Distribution Network: The global media company has embraced Gen Z, across over 31 platforms, and is now tripling its premium content output on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Activision Blizzard Media Networks Announces Esports Broadcast Network: The company announced the launch of new content, broadcast experiences, and distribution partnerships for its MLG.tv streaming platform.
Playboy Unveils Original Digital Video Series: Playboy has revamped both its website magazine, and is now also producing a set of series that revolves around a range of subjects.
Original Video Content and Social Video
In addition to YouTube and the 10 media companies above, another 18 companies made presentations during the 2016 Digital Content NewFronts. But, Facebook was conspicuously absent from the list of presenter, which may have been a missed opportunity. According to the IAB’s third annual “Digital Content NewFronts: Video Ad Spend Study,” advertisers have increased their investments in original digital video by 114% over the past two years. This latest survey also found that eight out of 10 marketing professionals said that their attendance at the 2015 NewFronts resulted in increased spending on original video content in the 12 months that followed.
Maybe Facebook didn’t qualify as a NewFronts presenting company – the rules state that « presenters must create original content in video format that is available online.” Now, YouTube doesn’t “create” original content in video format, although the YouTube Spaces team does help creators make great content via production facilities around the world. As of March 2015, creators using YouTube Spaces to film and edit have produced over 10,000 videos which have generated more than 1B views and over 70 million hours of watchtime. Oh, and let’s not forget the YouTube Partner Program, which lets creators monetize their content on YouTube in many ways, including advertisements, paid subscriptions, and merchandise.
Nevertheless, Facebook’s conspicuous absence from the 2016 Digital Content NewFronts should prompt media buyers and advertising publishers to start asking some hard questions. For example, you’ve just spent the past two weeks attending as many of the 38 events as you possibly could. I assume that you did this to learn what kind of content attracts what kind of audience. I also assume that you made this investment in time to learn more about the environment or context in which your video ads will appear. Well, what kind of audience do you get when you run video ads on Facebook? Well, you have a lot of ad targeting options. You can target your ad to people based on location and demographics like age, gender and interests. You can even target your ad to people based on what they do off of Facebook.
And in what environment or context will your video ads appear? Well, they’ll appear in someone’s News Feed – often on their smartphones. But, before they see your video ad, he or she may have been reading a post from a friend about yesterday’s win by the Boston Red Sox, looking at a photo of a family member graduating from the University of Maine School of Law, or watching “Cat Reacts to Horror Film”. That’s right. There are funny cat videos on Facebook. NewFronts showcased the latest in original digital video programming, featuring well-known talent and innovative storytelling, and much of that can also be found on Facebook. But, it’s often mixed in with posts, photos, and videos from an individual’s friends, family, and colleagues. Is that okay? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.