Three weeks after shifting this year’s Digital Content NewFronts to a virtual event in light of the novel coronavirus, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is now postponing the entire annual event for nearly two months.
The delay comes a week after buyers indicated to Adweek that they would likely not be able to conduct upfront negotiations in the usual late spring/summer time frame as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the industry.
“Moving the NewFronts will give publishers time to be creative, fine tune their messages and do their best work. The goal at IAB, as always, is to help publishers showcase their work in the best way possible, and to be a connector for the industry,” the IAB said in the blog post. “This will be a ‘new NewFronts’ in every way you can imagine.”
The IAB said it is still planning for a streamed event, and will be meeting with the presenters to discuss the schedule and other matters related to the postponement. More updates will be shared in the coming weeks.
“The NewFronts have always been about realizing our collective potential, not looking through the lens of the past. In that spirit, we’re having extensive conversations with both buyers and presenters about how to leverage this year’s unique challenges to create something that’s not just, ‘OK, all things considered,’ but really and truly better,” said IAB president David Cohen in a statement. “Our goal is to create a dynamic marketplace that connects buyers and sellers in a way that allows ample time for development, a robust platform for delivery and safety for all.”
As buyers have been increasingly doubtful that their clients will have their upfront budgets in place by May, the delay should give advertisers more time to prepare for long-term planning and buying.
“Best case scenario, if you’re looking at a return to normalcy in four weeks or six weeks, nobody is going to be prepared to sit here and say, ‘Yeah, I’m ready to talk about upfront budgets,’” one buyer, who requested to remain anonymous, told Adweek.
That means that “we’re not going to go to market until our clients are ready to go and comfortable with committing in advance,” added another buyer.
Three weeks ago, as the coronavirus continued to spread, the IAB said it was preparing for a virtual NewFronts season and giving all presenters the option to produce fully streamed presentations without a live audience or create a show that would have an audience and also be streamed for remote viewers.
In the days following the IAB’s announcement, several presenters, including YouTube, Twitter, Meredith, Digitas, Roku, Verizon Media and Hulu, said they would shift their NewFronts events to digital-only presentations. Vudu, meanwhile, opted to drop out of the event entirely.
The video streaming option will be available in future years to increase the audience of media buyers and planners who may be interested in purchasing ad inventory from participating companies and “transform the NewFronts and upfronts into the 21st-century media and brand marketplace they were meant to be,” the IAB said at the time.
Today’s NewFronts shift means there are no upfront events on the calendar until broadcast upfront week. That week of presentations, which will be entirely digital after every major media company canceled their in-person events on March 12, is still set to kick off May 11.