At this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, expect to hear a recurring theme from Internet media firms: We’re a better ad buy than TV, especially for targeting younger audiences.
The lineup includes Google’s YouTube, Hulu, Disney’s Maker Studios, Yahoo, AOL, Vice Media, Machinima, Defy Media, Endemol Beyond and BuzzFeed. In addition to those digital-first players, traditional media companies also will be pitching their Internet slates, including Condé Nast, the New York Times, Bloomberg, News Corp. and Time Inc.
What’s behind the surging interest in NewFronts: “People are starting to understand that there’s a lot of money to be made in digital, beyond just YouTube,” said Alan Wolk, senior analyst for TDG Research.
In 2015, U.S. digital video-ad spending is expected to grow 30% to hit $7.8 billion, according to research firm eMarketer. TV advertising is far more massive — expected to reach $70.6 billion this year, up 3% annually — but the Internet VOD solutions claim they have advantages television can’t match.
To Machinima CEO Chad Gutstein, the NewFronts offers a chance to spell out how digital is a better fit than TV for brands to get in front of younger audiences, as traditional TV viewing among millennials declines. His company, whose backers include Warner Bros. and Google, focuses on gamer and fanboy-oriented content for 18-34 male audiences.
“People are understanding that [content created on YouTube and other digital platforms] is not a cute little thing you’re doing,” Gutstein said. “I’m beginning to feel the tipping point has happened.” He said one of his favorite moments from Mip TV earlier this month in Cannes was this comment by AwesomenessTV founder Brian Robbins: “Everyone knows that traditional TV viewing for teens and tweens is dead. Not dying. Dead.”
The NewFronts began as an effort by Internet-video distributors to get on the radar of marketers who controlled video-advertising purse strings (i.e., TV budgets). The industry is now well past that, said Dawn Ostroff, head of Condé Nast Entertainment.
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