PMG Digital Made for Humans

2020 NewFronts Recap

12 MINUTE READ | June 30, 2020

2020 NewFronts Recap

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Natalee Geldert, Head of Brand Media

Natalee Geldert has written this article. More details coming soon.

The 2020 NewFronts was drastically different than in years past. With COVID-19 accelerating changes within our daily lives, we now rely on digital media and virtual experiences to keep us engaged and connected. Rather than rolling out the red carpet and filling large auditoriums, over 8,500 digital stakeholders tuned into a range of live and pre-recorded virtual formats that, quite honestly, might be a model for the future. Over 30 of today’s leading media companies showcased fresh, premium content, industry-leading insights, viewer-first advertising products, and new creative opportunities. Check out key trends PMG identified, as well as highlights from some of our favorite sessions.

“For advertisers, Streaming TV is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ or ‘a place to test and learn.’ It’s a must-have, and it will redefine advertising in the same way that search did twenty years ago,” said Kelly Campbell, President of Hulu. During a time of great uncertainty, Hulu, along with many new streaming entrants, is seeing double-digit growth in subscribers, viewership, and minutes watched. Key trends such as ‘comfort viewing’ and binge-watching The Golden Girls or having a good laugh with Solar Opposites have catapulted the growth over the last three to four months.

With the rise of Generation Stream and continued growth in watch times, publishers like Condé Nast, Ellen, Barstool Sports, and Snap are expanding original programming lineups. Many announced plans for new series and pilots that will even be extending the content beyond their owned and operated (O&O) digital properties and into CTV environments that can reach users on the big screen in their living rooms. 

The audio space has seen massive growth in the past few years, and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down post-COVID. After reportedly seeing 28 million hours spent with podcast content last year, Condé Nast announced the launch of its podcast network and the release of seven(!) new shows. Other publishers are also expanding their footprint in the audio space in order to reach its hyper-engaged audience, including Barstool Sports and Vice Media Group. These publishers also announced lineups of upcoming new shows that will leverage well known in-house talent and celebrities.

With streaming and video content continuing to see massive growth, many companies have recognized the power of interactivity in video ads. Shoppable video units were unveiled at this year’s NewFronts by Hulu, Condé Nast, Roku, which will allow users to tap to shop and seamlessly connect the shopping experience from their TV to mobile phones. 

Roku continues to dominate the streaming world as streaming hours within Q1 of 2020 increased nearly 50% year over year. Within Roku’s presentation, OneView was introduced, an ad-buying platform built just for TV streaming. This tool is based on opt-in login user data and can help marketers access audiences in one place and more accurately across campaigns. Next, Roku revealed Roku Reserve, which allows advertisers to buy the 1% of ad-supported channels with all the proven benefits of audience data, making it easier than ever to pair the best identity data and best content at once. Not only is this partner looking for the best streaming experiences, but driving efficiencies by introducing two new pricing models, equivalized pricing and incremental reach guarantee.

One caveat: Equivalized pricing is just on the Roku channel, and CPM is based on the length of the spot, therefore the :15s spot is half the price of the :30s spot. Incremental reach guarantee offers advertisers the ability to pay for incremental reach only. To do this, Roku analyzes linear and Roku delivery during the campaign to ensure advertisers are only billed for the impressions served to those who have not seen the ad within the linear campaign. As cord-cutters and bingers continue to stream video, Roku will be there to provide insights and incremental reach for future campaigns. 

As the first and largest premium, ad-supported streaming TV platform, Hulu — now a part of Disney Advertising Sales — spoke to how its experience, storytelling, data, and scale places them at the forefront of putting television dollars to work in a streaming-dominated landscape. Hulu unveiled its latest insights about ‘Generation Stream’ in order to better understand the attitudes and motivations of the viewers who are reshaping the TV watching experience. In the presentation, GatewayGo was released as Hulu’s new, viewer-first advertising format, marrying traditional TV ads with new, action-oriented prompts (such as QR codes and push notifications). This offering is just another way to drive closer, more immediate connections between viewers and advertisers.

Hulu also announced the integration of Nielsen Media Impact, a new measurement solution that enables marketers to see exactly what kind of reach they can expect against their ad spend across the Disney Advertising Sales platform. Available October 1st, 2020, Disney Hulu XP will be the first unified video ad product for marketers spanning the entire Disney platform with more robust targeting options. And lastly, Hulu released its 2021 Originals Lineup, the FX on Hulu Originals Lineup, and confirmed Huluween is a go for Fall 2020!

Crackle Plus unveiled its new slate of original, free programming, which will bring nearly 200 hours of new original and exclusive content to the AVOD platform. As one of the largest AVOD providers, Crackle Plus has a monthly reach of 30 million, which will surely increase as they announced new partnerships with Xfinity and Plex, with Crackle Plus being Plex’s first AVOD partner. 

Snapchat has expanded beyond just a social network by becoming a source of real-time content and original programming. Content consumption on the platform is higher than ever, with 35% growth in time spent on Discover content, and time spent watching Snapchat shows doubling in Q1 2020. To further this growth, Snapchat announced the launch of “Happening Now” on Discover that will house real-time news updates in sports, pop culture, and politics. The platform also debuted ten new Snap Original shows, as well as the addition of AR capabilities within shows through a partnership with Verizon. 

Condé Nast is looking to make a splash in the streaming space with 150 new pilots set to launch across its portfolio, with a record 57 series returning. Most impressive was that O&O viewership is up 60% this year with the premium publisher tripling watch time with viewers returning three times a day and watching 30+ minutes per day. Likely, as a result, Condé Nast will extend its content offering to Roku, Vizio, TiVo, and more. Condé Nast Prime Live is set to launch in 2020 and offers TV-like scale while giving advertisers exclusive access to marquee events like the Vanity Fair Oscars Party and Met Gala. 

In other news, Good Morning Vogue is set to be the fashion’s first live morning show when it premieres in September, giving users a peek behind the curtain of the fashion world. GQ Sports is creating a series with the NBA Players Association that connects fans to players, with each episode set to be directed by a Black director. Condé Nast is also rolling out the new Prime Shoppable unit, a first to market shoppable video unit that allows the user to shop in real-time. Outside of video, Condé Nast also announced that they would be launching a new podcast network, with brands like Wired, Pitchfork, and Vogue leading the charge.

With a reach of 260 million followers, Ellen Degeneres’ Ellen Digital Network (EDN) shared a glimpse into its novel programs during this year’s NewFronts session. These include: 

  • Help Me, Gen Z, a segment to stay up-to-date with trends of the generation.

  • All Love, where vegan lifestyles, social media, and all things parenting are up for discussion.

  • Game Night, where couples can virtually compete against each other whilst enjoying a cocktail.

  • Other programs include LadyParts, a space to lightheartedly discuss the female anatomy, a DIY home make-over on Monica’s New Pad, and virtually hosting weddings on Officiate-ly In Love.

During its presentation, Facebook provided a detailed recap of how users and brands are interacting during the pandemic crisis across the platform. Community collaborations were created in which brands asked Facebook users to share creations and stories to increase conversations during this time. With new challenges popping up, users got creative during quarantine to keep themselves entertained. As such, brands across verticals from fitness to entertainment took advantage of the Facebook Live feature to live stream workouts and concerts. Additionally, @curatedbyfb on Instagram was created to showcase stories on the people, brands, and ideas shaping culture across Facebook and Instagram. 

Vevo’s big focus this year was CTV. The platform, a joint venture by Universal Music Group and Sony Entertainment, is typically known for its exclusive ad inventory before music videos on YouTube. Now, the platform is seeing viewership on the CTV App increase drastically YoY and MoM. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Vevo reportedly saw CTV inventory increase by over 20%. The platform now encourages all buyers to include CTV on all Vevo plans. 

Vevo also introduced two new Prime Targeting Products to its portfolio. “Moods” allow advertisers to target based on a user’s mood, matching the tone of the creative to the video. “Rising Hits” will allow advertisers to surround videos that are on the cusp of making it big. Of note, Vevo is — Always On. Never Postponed. Never Cancelled.

Barstool is more than just sports with the company’s lifestyle content competing with the likes of E! and Buzzfeed, reaching one in three 18-34-year-olds.

Authentic, unfiltered, and on 24/7

Key highlights from Barstool Sports’ NewFronts presentation include the release of new, Fall 2020 Programming, while also noting the return of legacy content. New Talent was released, with names such as Alex Cooper, Brandon Newman, and Joey Mulinaro getting added to the roster. Barstool also unveiled its new Creative Services Studio, shedding light on the in-house teams that can design, ideate, and execute a brand’s creative vision and video assets.

VICE is set to launch the 8:46 Project during the next 12 months across all brands and platforms to take a more in-depth look at systemic racism and the corresponding events following George Floyd’s death, which ignited the biggest uprising against racial injustice in modern history. Additionally, the company launched VICE World News just two weeks ago, which will increase the amount of content they are producing. To produce this content, VICE has designated 25 journalists from offices around the world to focus on the immersive field journalism VICE is so well known for.

Another notable highlight was the VICE partnership with iHeartMedia to launch a new flagship podcast this fall called Vice News Reports. The podcast will start with weekly distribution and focus on bringing the signature immersive-style journalist to the audio format. This fall, Vice is set to launch a new show, Cari and Jemele, which will feature two Black female hosts talking about news, sports, events, culture, and uncomfortable conversations. Not to be forgotten from VICE’s NewFronts was the Vice Guide to 2030, which will invite young people to discuss and create content outlining what they think the future looks like for their generation.

YouTube’s Brandcast session took a more personalized approach this year by fielding attendee’s picks of music, content verticals, and content creators two weeks in advance to create personal viewing sessions for each of its viewers. Beyond noting their acceleration of measurement, two key announcements were made. 

YouTube Select is YouTube’s new, reimagined Google Preferred offering that includes the same popular creator content, plus new features like a dedicated streaming TV offering to help advertisers reach their audience on TV screens. YouTube also announced a suite of new solutions for YouTube for Action to help businesses drive greater conversions at more efficient costs, ranging from new shoppable solutions to simplified performance products. 

Since the onset of COVID-19, OTT content viewership during daytime hours has increased by 65% and a 2X increase in the evening. As video viewership is increasing, the video landscape is also becoming increasingly fragmented across screens. Through the powerful combination of innovative video technology, advanced audience data, and captivating creative, Tremor outlined a number of ways it can help advertisers reach the modern consumer with video campaigns during the event. 

In the presentation, Xandr shared the results of its latest survey. Of note, Xandr reported a staggering increase in video viewership and fragmentation across screens. The majority of respondents (90%) watch at least three hours of TV/streaming content each day. The types of content include Dramas, News, and Comedies, with 51% of respondents using paid streaming services daily, 48% using Cable TV, and 22% using the network site/app. While VOD has increased by 50% MoM in February and March.

At NewFronts, TikTok introduced its new platform, TikTok For Business, which will serve as the home for all of the platform’s ad products and marketing solutions for brands. The platform will offer access to TikTok’s existing ad formats, including TopView Content, Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Video, and Branded Hashtag Challenges. In addition to these existing opportunities, TikTok announced the platform would also house a new ad format called Brand Scan. This format will allow brands to produce AR effects that creators can integrate into their own user-generated content. 

TikTok described its advertising opportunities in two words: seamless and simple. The teams at TikTok deliberately developed products that allow for brands to organically integrate into the TikTok user experience. When asked how brands should build content for the platform, Katie Puris, Managing Direct, Global Head of Business Marketing urged brands not to make ads, but to make TikToks.

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That’s A Wrap! We captured the highlights from ad products and measurement solutions, to Generation Stream and everything in between. We are excited about Q4 2020 and all the things to come in early 2021