Do the Newfronts Matter to You?

The Upfronts and Newfronts sound amazing to regular readers of the trades.

Lavish parties. Incredible shows. High stakes dealing. Free Wine.

To most of the digital marketing world that’s how it actually is – something you read about from afar. That’s because while digital properties and publishers have lots of incredible products and wares to show, the Upfronts model doesn’t really apply to how digital media is planned and bought (it may not really apply to TV anymore, either, though that is a topic for another day).

The Upfronts were intended to allow broadcast buyers to commit to and reserve finite and limited spots that would be available during the impending TV season’s hottest new programming. Big spenders would buy during big shows, and the Upfronts swirl of wining and dining yielded the deals needed to float the season. The Newfronts added the digital sideshow to this feeding frenzy, allowing digital content-makers and publishers to show off their wares in similar spirit.

Except digital media is not as finite and isn’t really bought this way. Newfronts are a valuable (and fun!) way for everyone to see what’s going on in the digital content space, but it usually doesn’t largely play in to media planning the way it does for TV.

So in this context, here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Is it SAFE?

A lot of open web advertising is now bought programmatically, and amid Google’s recent issues around “brand-safe inventory,” quality impressions that are indeed brand safe (and third-party verified as such), will be a central theme of the Upfronts. Coverage of these topics will likely be more important than the parties and the swag.

2. Mobile First? Mobile Only?

Getting into mobile behaviors should still be a top priority for brands, and a lot of Newfronts will be talking about mobile views of video. That’s important, but brands should keep in mind that there are lots of ways to effectively get their message on mobile phones that don’t rely on preroll and the dreaded midroll – let-alone popups, popovers, banners, takeovers, etc., etc.

3. Content Explosion

Digital content is exploding, and from significant names like YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and more. There is a ton of original content being developed in tons of exclusive and non-exclusive channels, and a lot of this isn’t represented at the Newfronts. If you’re truly looking for the hottest video to buy inventory in, you need to widen your scope.

While these are interesting trends to watch for, the fundamentals haven’t changed: brands should be thinking about how to make and distribute their content most effectively, with an eye to both their marketing KPIs and business goals. Great storytelling that doesn’t move the dial is a fail – and not the good kind.


To that end, there are great strategies for creating what we call “precision content,” well-targeted branded content that lives on and is native to the channels consumers use most, made at the right production value, that can get brands excellent results in relatively quick turnarounds – with no need to make commitments early in the year.

Most important is to match what you’re hearing about and learning about to your business and marketing strategies. If those don’t match your content strategy, that’s the right place to start. Of course we at Moment Studio can help with this bit too.

So while entertaining and interesting, the Newfronts are just the tip of the iceberg about what’s possible in digital and content distribution.


Ken Kraemer is CEO and Founder of Moment Studio. He started Moment Studio to provide a high-quality, efficient way for brands to create great social content that gets equally great business results.