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The rise of digital video: NewFronts 2014

This past week was the 4th year of the Digital Content NewFronts, the digital world’s response to the long-standing TV Upfronts, which take center stage for anyone in the media industry this time of year.

The NewFronts are a who’s who of brands and talent, all trying to one-up each other and bring the “next big thing in digital” to the table. Big media brands are partnering with A-list celebrities, creating original content, and promoting a slew of new ad products (thank you, Hulu).

But glamour aside, I see two big unanswered questions associated with the NewFronts. Yes, digital video ad spending is on an upward trajectory–estimated to reach $9.25 billion by 2016 (according to eMarketer), but the jury’s still out on data and audience.

First and foremost, digital planners and buyers love data. I love data—and there’s plenty of it among multiple digital platforms. But making it accessible and available–let’s just say that’s easier said than done. With big media brands launching new products and content, most of which is untested, there is limited data transparency going around.

Second and equally important is building and retaining an audience – a long-term audience – one that will continue to return to the brand after a three to four-month series has ended. This has been a challenge for many brands in the digital space and is a hesitation for advertiser participation.

On the plus side, the NewFronts have created a noticeable momentum in the industry. If you can get past the celeb-infused announcements, there is a striking trend… the convergence of content across multiple digital platforms.

Some want to rebrand the NewFronts as “Omni-Fronts” or “All-Fronts,” which I respond, hey why not? It would be a truer representation of what we as an industry are trying to achieve. It’s the acceptance that consumer behavior is changing due to technology advancements and access to video content is being demanded across all screens, consuls, devices, platforms… not just during prime time viewing periods. And, lastly, let’s be honest, there is little that is “new” about digital video, the focus now is on how, where and when it is consumed.

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