Publishers Up Video Bets, Announcing Launch of VR Apps, Instagram Series at NewFronts
Publishers appeared in force at this year’s Digital Content NewFronts, a two-week event held throughout New York City that showcases companies’ new digital video programming. The NewFronts presentations are a chance for video creators to pitch advertisers their shows and make the case for spending money on digital video as opposed to cable TV. It’s also a chance for companies to share their latest investments in video technology. Virtual reality (VR), for example, was a hot topic at this year’s event, says Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) SVP and general manager of mobile and video Anna Bager. The New York Times, The Economist, Time Inc., and National Geographic all announced new VR initiatives at this year’s event.
The IAB is the organizer of the five-year-old NewFronts and has seen publisher participants increase as digital video has grown in popularity, both among advertisers and consumers. This year marks one of the most publisher-heavy events, says Bager. “Ad spending on original digital video has increased by more than double — 114% to be exact — since 2014. That kind of growth is something that publishers can’t ignore.” Publishers new to the 2016 NewFronts were Hearst, Playboy, SheKnows Media, Trusted Media Brands (formerly Reader’s Digest), and Mashable.
Some of the most notable publisher announcements at NewFronts 2016 include Time Inc.’s plan to launch an Over-the-Top Network (OTT) through People and Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc.’s ad-supported People/Entertainment Weekly Network will offer free original series focused on celebrity and pop culture news as well as coverage of live events. Time Inc. also announced that it will be launching a VR app centered around its LIFE brand.
National Geographic also made headlines when it announced its first ever Instagram series, “MoviNG Pictures,” which will follow the experiences of National Geographic photographers on assignment. This video strategy takes advantage of National Geographic’s massive social following, particularly on Instagram where it boasts over 49 million followers. Additionally, National Geographic announced the creation of its dedicated VR studio.
Following, Bager explains why digital video is becoming an increasingly important part of the publisher toolkit and highlights significant moments from the NewFronts.
Why is video such an attractive medium for publishers?
The NewFronts has been growing exponentially, alongside the explosive growth of digital video as an advertising medium. It has been exciting seeing how one-time traditional magazine monoliths such as Time Inc. and Conde Nast have approached bringing digital video into their toolkit, and for the first time Hearst joined the line up as well. It is clear that magazine brands have strong core audiences and these companies are looking to leverage those loyal fanbases and expand upon them across digital screens. Video is the ideal medium for taking a magazine’s ideas and energy off the page and into a world of sight, sound, and motion.
Marketers and media buyers are looking for premium digital video opportunities that reach a wide range of audiences. In fact, ad spending on original digital video has increased more than double — 114 percent to be exact — since 2014. That kind of growth is something that publishers can’t ignore. It’s one of the reasons that the NewFronts expanded this year to accommodate 37 presenters over the course of a full two weeks.
What are some of the most exciting announcements from this year’s NewFronts?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one or two announcements that really stood out during the NewFronts, but there certainly were a lot of collaborations that got buzz — from Uproxx partnering with Forbes, to YouTube working with Sesame Street, to Facebook teaming with DigitasLBi, and Hulu joining forces with Live Nation.
What video technology are you most excited about for the future?
A number of the presenters showcased virtual reality opportunities at their presentations. It’s an exciting — and engrossing — medium, and I can’t wait to see how brands learn to play in this new format.