Top Takeaways From the 2022 IAB NewFronts
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After two years of virtual presentations, the 2022 IAB NewFronts offered a new, hybrid approach with a mix of both live presentations in New York City and virtual sessions. As the world’s largest digital content showcase, this year’s NewFronts featured a robust lineup of first-looks and presentations by leading media companies, influential voices, and the most popular streaming platforms, including Amazon, Black Enterprise, Condé Nast, Peacock, Roku, and more. All things streaming took center stage, embodying the cultural zeitgeist as rising demand for premium digital content continues to transform the media landscape. To help brands navigate the sea of new offerings and industry advancements unveiled at this year’s NewFronts presentations, we’ve outlined the top themes and takeaways.
The future is here with customizable product placements: Advancements in post-production technology are powering innovative ad formats, with several streaming platforms unveiling new advertising and product placement opportunities at IAB’s NewFronts, empowering brands with new ways to show up alongside popular TV shows and movies.
More shoppable ad formats are coming to screens near you: The path to purchase is getting shorter, with partners like Condé Nast and Roku announcing several advancements in shoppable advertising, to the delight of brand advertisers.
Rebrands, restructures, and reimagined streaming experiences: Tubi, Vizio, and Roku took the stage to unveil advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported TV (FAST) streaming platforms, signaling that fragmentation across the streaming media landscape will only accelerate in the months ahead.
To set the stage, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released its 2021 Video Ad Spend and 2022 Outlook Report ahead of NewFronts, which found that advertising spend on digital video increased 49 percent in 2021 and is expected to grow an additional 26 percent to $49.2 billion in 2022. As part of this incredible growth, CTV ad spend rose 57 percent in 2021 to $15.2 billion and is expected to increase by nearly 40 percent in 2022 to $21.1 billion. Now more than ever, brands are primed to engage viewers beyond the living room and across devices, as eMarketer reported in 2021 that 65 percent of video subscribers have three or more subscriptions.
Streaming platforms are operating in a hypercompetitive landscape, and developments over the past few weeks, including Disney’s AVOD announcement and Netflix’s earnings call, have shown that any platform that seeks to inch ahead of the competition will need a sophisticated advertising model. Amazon intends to do just that, announcing virtual product placements (VPPs) via dynamic ads. Similarly, NBCUniversal’s Peacock announced In-Scene Ads, where billboards seen during TV shows and movies will be available to advertisers with dynamic inserts made in the post-production phase.
Original content and programming have captivated audiences and stolen the show over the past several years, but this year, shoppable tech and podcast programming stepped into the limelight. Roku announced several new shoppable advertising advancements via its OneView platform, including an overlay screen during commercials for featuring products, and product ads where viewers can use “Roku Pay” to purchase the product being showcased directly on screen. Both shoppable ad types will be implemented in fall 2022, with more shoppable features expected in time for the holiday season.
Condé Nast is taking a similar approach by expanding Condé Nast Shoppable, which allows brand advertisers to monetize videos on Condé Nast-owned-and-operated platforms and social channels. Condé Nast also announced a new slate of audio pilots, in addition to its library of 40 podcasts across the network, which includes The Pitchfork Show, New Money from WIRED, TNY Politics, The New Roundtable from The New Yorker, and Vogue’s weekly series In Vogue. More details on these opportunities are expected during the 2022 IAB Podcast Upfronts next week.
With TikTok upending Instagram and Snap as the #1 social app among young users, it’s safe to say that scrolling through posts from friends and family is no longer the name of the game for social media. In line with this shift, social platforms showcased how they plan to capture attention and increase time in-app, in addition to providing more value for brand advertisers.
Meta laid claim to individual storytelling, while Snap promoted its range of original programs that already boast millions of viewers and are expected to grow even more this year. As a point of differentiation, Meta positioned its apps as the home of storytelling, with creators on hand to support bringing brand moments to life, versus Snap, which reinforced an environment where real friends can feel seen and heard, and engage with content that represents the beauty and diversity of the world around them. In an interesting move, creators on Snap will be given more of a platform this year with a Cameo-collaborative ad offering and expansion of the Snap Creator Marketplace.
Meanwhile, Twitter centered its NewFronts presentation around the power of real-time storytelling and promoted new and extended partnerships with entertainment and sports hubs, including E!, FIFA, Condé Nast, Fox, and more, which will offer content exclusivity across big moments throughout the year. TikTok’s experiential presentation was designed to show the value that creators bring to finding and building communities online by representing a range of social and cultural conversations. For advertisers, the company also announced plans to offer more monetization opportunities in the coming year to help encourage content creation.
New social platform ad offerings came in the form of more immersive and experiential advancements, while direct response solutions and in-app shopping updates were largely not addressed. In short, the focus appears to be on driving longer-length user interaction with platform content across the roster of social apps available to users. Meta’s presentation, for example, didn't emphasize any new advertising opportunities but reiterated that metaverse and AR experiences will be foundations of the platform’s future growth. Snapchat similarly prioritized its focus on AR, discussing the specific camera-focused technology it excels at, and noting that while AR use will grow, Snap plans to increase the sophistication of its product and allow for brands to more easily access and share AR content.
From TV manufacturers and CTV device makers to content studios and streaming platforms, TV titans across the media landscape took to the NewFronts stage to unveil a host of ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported TV (FAST) services. According to Roku, the most searched term on Roku devices is “Free TV,” and Tubi claimed that half of all internet users will be watching AVOD in the years to come.
A tally of new developments includes:
Vizio adding its own channels and shows to WatchFree+, such as Polaris, a free music channel dedicated to Black artists, and hip-hop music, in addition to free streaming cable channels like CNN, Fox, and NFL Network.
Tubi added custom content to Tubi en Espanol, Tubi Kid and Adult Animation.
Amazon rebranded IMDBTV to FreeVee, adding new music channels and documentary content. Amazon also announced Amazon Prime and Twitch are now the exclusive national broadcasting partners for NFL Thursday Night Football for the next 11 years.
The Roku Channel is launching more original content and short-form films.
NBCUniversal ended its content-sharing deal with Hulu and will shift all NBCUniversal content onto rival streaming platform Peacock by the end of 2022.
As the media landscape grows more fragmented, media companies, social platforms, and publishers are tasked with finding new ways to engage audiences and diversify revenue streams without disrupting the experience for viewers.
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“From product placement in post-production to in-scene billboards and new storytelling moments across custom advertising and content offerings, new ad opportunities were abound at this year’s NewFronts, helping brand advertisers reimagine the role video can play in their media mix,” said Natalee Geldert, head of brand media at PMG. “While it is yet to be seen how engaging, sophisticated, and impactful these new media activations will be out the gate, the future of holistic, full-funnel media strategies will no doubt be shaped by many of these new ad experiences and storytelling opportunities.”
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