Had the Covid-19 pandemic not occurred, the Interactive Advertising Bureau would be in the middle of its annual Digital Content NewFronts gathering, which had been scheduled to take place this week in New York.
Instead, the IAB is firming up the plans for its postponed NewFronts virtual event, which will now take place the week of June 22 and feature a half-dozen new presenters filling some of the slots vacated by the eight companies that have dropped out since the event went steaming-only in March, and then was postponed a month ago.
Despite the exit of several NewFronts presenters—including Amazon, BBC News, Digitas, Meredith, The New York Times, Twitter, Verizon Media and Vudu—the IAB recommitted to the postponed virtual event today, unveiling a new list of presenters that include ad-supported streamers Tubi and Crackle Plus, publishers The Recount and The Wall Street Journal/Barron’s Group, audio out-of-home company Vibenomics and digital entertainment studio 3BlackDot.
Five presenters remain confirmed from the original NewFronts lineup announced in February: Hulu, YouTube, Condé Nast, Ellen Digital and Roku. The eight companies that dropped out have said they will focus on one-on-one conversations with agencies and advertisers.
The IAB said additional presenters are expected to be added to the virtual program “shortly.”
“I’ll be honest: When we first confronted the need to hold the NewFronts entirely online back in March, it was exciting but daunting,” IAB president David Cohen said in a statement. “Already, working with publishers, brands and tech companies to pull it all together feels much more natural. Just look around at the innovation we are seeing in production, storytelling and building immersive virtual experiences. That’s how fast things have changed. This is one NewFronts no one should miss.”
The focus of the week—which has a new theme: “Insight. Inspiration. Transformation.”—will be on shifting consumer behaviors and media habits in the wake of the continued effects of Covid-19 and its implications for marketers. Several brands, including Facebook, GSTV, Samsung Ads, Tremor Video and AT&T’s Xandr, will also contribute to the week with programming about what they’re seeing and how marketers can capitalize.
“Our industry isn’t on ‘pause.’ Far from it,” IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said in a statement. “It’s on fast-forward, and we’ll all have to race to catch up with changed behaviors.”
The revamped lineup comes as the media and marketing industries face unprecedented changes. As Covid-19 has had devastating health and economic effects around the country, its impact on advertising is expected to be dire: Publishers share a near-unanimous expectation of contracted ad sales revenue as buyers, and planners expect a bigger financial fallout than the 2008 financial crisis. AT&T’s most recent quarterly earnings, which included just a portion of Covid-19-related effects, reflected a near-quarter drop in advertising revenue.
With that said, publishers are eager to make their cases to media planners and buyers about why they remain a good buy.
The revamped NewFronts also come as this year’s upfront marketplace remains in flux due to shifting advertiser needs and uncertain production timelines. Last week, Adweek reported that buyers expect a staggered marketplace due to the continued uncertainty about the pandemic’s full effects.