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Takeaways from the 2024 IAB NewFronts

5 MINUTE READ | May 6, 2024

Takeaways from the 2024 IAB NewFronts

Takeaways from the 2024 IAB NewFronts

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PMG Insights Team

Comprised of media practitioners, retail strategists, and senior business leaders, the PMG Insights Team creates compelling thought leadership, spearheads proprietary consumer research, and drafts editorial content on the current and future state of the advertising, media, and technology industries.

Across a packed schedule of partner showcases and speaker sessions, the focus for this year’s IAB NewFronts centered around all things digital video, live sports, and engaging audiences through the latest advertising and media innovations. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) kicked off last week’s event with the release of its annual research report, which found that digital video remains one of the fastest-growing channels in all of media. Combined, CTV, social, and online video comprise 52 percent of the U.S. video advertising marketing, now surpassing linear TV advertising, with CTV and social video among the top ‘must buys’ for the largest U.S. advertisers. 

  • With live sports viewership growing fast, several platforms and publishers unveiled new content offerings and ways for viewers to watch their favorite sports and for advertisers to be a part of the action. 

  • Roku isn’t the only one reimagining the homescreen experience as Vizio, LG, and Samsung announced new ad units for engaging viewers on the homescreen, which, according to industry research, is where millions of viewers spend an average of 44 minutes a day.

  • From new activation partnerships and measurement pairings to ad units with dynamic billboards, shoppability, and more, there was no shortage of ad innovations this year that were privacy-first, audience-focused, and powered by AI and machine learning.

As live sports viewership continues to soar, it was only fitting that NewFronts featured several platforms and publishers unveiling new content offerings centered around live sporting events and wall-to-wall coverage of the world’s greatest athletes and most popular sports. 

TikTok announced the expansion of TikTok Pulse with entertainment-focused content packages, including Pulse Premiere, which now includes content from Paramount Global and the National Hockey League. Snap unveiled more sports content offerings, including partnerships with Live Nation and various sports leagues like the WNB, NBA, and NFL, to provide advertisers and Snapchatters with more ways to engage and cheer on their favorite athletes. The social network is partnering with NBCUniversal this summer to develop unique AR experiences for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, while various Snap influencers will attend the Games and share their Parisian experiences exclusively on the platform. Snap is also launching the Snap Sports Network, a new sports channel within Snapchat that will cover unconventional sports, like dog surfing, extreme ironing, water bottle flipping, and more, with advertising opportunities via sponsorships and product integrations. 

Publishers are also finding ways to attract more fans with unique athlete profiles and live sports coverage. Condé Nast will enhance its expansive editorial portfolio with new verticals and partnerships, including a new GQ Sports collaboration with Formula 1, ESPN, and YouTube that includes an NBA Finals watch party livestream. Revry, the home of the only LGBTQ+-centered CTV network in the world, announced new sponsorship opportunities for advertisers around live entertainment events, including the International Vogue League that hosts live vogue ballroom dance competitions like Pride Ball, Halloween Ball, and more. 

Vizio revealed plans to launch the Vizio Sports Hub later this year with ample customizable preferences, creating a comprehensive ‘homebase’ for live sports coverage. Samsung showcased its plans to invest more in Samsung TV Plus, including more free ad-supported TV (FAST) channels centered around sports content. These new channels span MLB, which has a dedicated channel for game replays and highlights; behind-the-scenes programming and documentaries about the PGA Tour and its athletes; a FAST channel for AHL games; as well as new channels for Formula 1 and ONE Championship TV MMA. Similarly, Roku will launch a new Olympics Zone this summer for Paris 2024 in conjunction with NBC and an enhanced Sports Zone with more NBA content. NewFronts also featured an exclusive event on women’s sports by Sports Innovation Lab’s Women’s Sports Club that provided industry-leading insights and trends on ad activation opportunities, whether it’s culture-, athlete-, community-, or data-driven, around women’s sports. 

The latest wave of media rights deals (which saw the NBA sign a $76 billion, multi-platform media rights deal just last week) and changing viewership trends have brought forth an era of experimentation that spans platforms and channels. As these companies lean into complex viewing behavior, these new sports-centered offerings spell good news for advertisers, who can play a leading role in engaging sports fans in ways that have never been done before. 

Roku isn’t the only one reimagining the homescreen experience, with several companies at NewFronts unveiling their plans for new ways to engage viewers on the homescreen, which, according to research, is where millions of viewers spend an average of 44 minutes a day. To capitalize on these trends, earlier this year, Vizio launched animated features on homescreens that have significantly increased user engagement while also releasing the new Vizio Recommends that offers personalized recommendations strategically timed to maximize impact. Vizio users will soon have access to the Newsroom, a destination that provides headlines, current events, and election coverage alongside an always-on Hispanic Heritage Hub. The company’s WatchFree+ will soon offer advertisers Pause Ads, as viewership on WatchFree+ has nearly doubled year-over-year, presenting advertisers with a new opportunity for increased engagement and reach among Vizio users. 

LG reported similar findings, noting that it takes viewers over 11 minutes to select the content they’re going to watch every viewing session, presenting a prime opportunity for native advertising. They announced several ad innovations during its NewFronts presentation, including a Homescreen Takeover banner. This unit, previously reserved for entertainment studios, is now available for general-market advertisers globally and can link directly to custom landing pages, creating new access points of exposure and distribution for brand content. Additionally, LG rolled out its Curated Collections offering, which gives brands the opportunity to sponsor packages of seasonal or contextual content with ad category exclusivity like Holiday movies, Halloween collections, and more. LG also teased the release of Pause Ads and Screensaver ads coming out later this year. 

Roku, the home to‌ one of the most memorable screensaver and homescreen environments, has ambitious plans for the content format, offering advertisers unique brand integrations and easter-egg ad formats. Highlights from Roku’s presentation include enhancements to its homescreen marquee ad unit, which is now available as a video unit, and a new interstitial :15-second video unit that plays when users transition out of the screensaver experience.

The latest ad innovations and new feature announcements could be heard from every stage this year, with countless partners highlighting privacy-first upgrades, audience-focused features, and the power of AI for ad optimization, personalization, and performance measurement. Fubo unveiled a new suite of CTV ad offerings. TikTok announced plans for premium content programming, including updates to TikTok Pulse and new measurement capabilities thanks to partnerships with iSpot and Nielsen ONE. This year’s NewFronts also saw many firsts, including Google as principal sponsor and several first-time presenters, like T-Mobile taking the stage to announce its T-Mobile Mobile Advertising Solutions expansion. 

Meta is bringing more AI capabilities to Reels, including AI-Powered Asset Expansion, to help advertisers easily reshape and optimize assets for optimal Reels viewability. In partnership with Kerv, LG announced new opportunities for shoppable CTV, including extended reach via LG’s network across Hyundai car screens, Marriott hospitality screens, and LG’s DOOH inventory. Future-proofing and privacy-first advertising were recurring themes throughout NewFronts presentations, with several companies announcing various partnerships with Snowflake and Habu for data cleanrooms or using The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 to unlock additional audience opportunities. Teads revealed plans to double down on its attention capabilities, showcasing new partnerships with TVision and Adelaide during its NewFronts presentation. 

Google focused on several product releases within DV360, including PAIR, its differentiated privacy-safe audience matching capabilities with publishers, including NBC, and soon, Disney and Sling, with plans to open-source PAIR via the IAB Tech Lab. Among other Google announcements included Content Optimizer, which leverages AI across Central Partner deal management for delivery optimization, and Audience Persona, an audience-targeting optimizer powered by generative AI. Rembrand also unveiled how it's using AI to power virtual product placements into existing content. Using product recognition and ad generation via SambaAI, SambaTV announced plans to infuse more generative AI into its contextual advertising and measurement capabilities.

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During their respective presentations, Roku, Samsung, and LG, among others, announced new partnerships with adtech leaders like Kerv and The Trade Desk, with the promise of delivering greater scale and performance for advertisers and a better, more personalized experience for viewers. As the video advertising landscape continues to converge across screens of all sizes, this year’s NewFronts gave advertisers a front-row seat to all the insights and innovations that are shaping the future of digital media. 

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