IAB NewFronts showcases video platforms armed for ‘challenging and unpredictable times’

This week digital platforms and streaming services are in New York to show off new programming and digital ad opportunities at IAB’s NewFronts.

It’s a chance for digital publishers to show how they are capturing audiences who cut the cord and now choose digital channels. They also want to convince advertisers that their platform innovations and programming are the best way to connects with viewers, especially younger ones.

U.S. digital video ad spend grew at almost twice the rate of overall digital media in 2022, 21% versus 11% overall, according to the IAB.

“Against this amazing backdrop of opportunity we should make no mistake — we are living in challenging and unpredictable times,” said IAB CEO David Cohen, in his opening remarks. “There is a lot at stake and a lot up for grabs.”

Why we care. Presentations at NewFronts make a convincing case that video has earned the attention from brands that television gets with their upfronts — presentations that broadcasters make to advertisers in the spring about upcoming programming. Audiences are moving to streaming services for traditional TV content like movies and sports. Younger viewers who never watched TV regularly are also spending time viewing short-from video content and playing games on their TVs and phones. Marketers have to follow this space in order to meet many of their customers where they are.

The NewFronts. “Despite today’s marketplace being 24/7 and 365-day experience, NewFronts provides a singular moment in time for buyers and sellers to meet and discuss planning for the remainder of the year and next,” Cohen told MarTech. “This is a business built on relationships and we know how important it is to bring the industry together at key times of the year.”

He added, “The video landscape has drastically changed, and ad-supported streaming is reaching a place of maturity. IAB NewFronts has solidified itself as a must-attend event for brands and agencies that are looking to understand where to place their video and streaming budgets. It has evolved into more than just a showcase of content, but a place where real dollars are transacted and real discussions are had about innovation in streaming.”

Some big announcements

Samsung Ads. Samsung’s free ad-supported (FAST) service, Samsung TV, is a good example of how digital video is stepping up to deliver premium content in a fragmented landscape.

In their May 2 presentation, Samsung TV announced it’s adding Conan O’Brien TV as a channel to its FAST lineup, as well as expanded local news and weather content. For gamers, Samsung also announced partnerships with video game streamers Antstream Arcade and Blacknut for free ad-supported games.

Three-quarters of U.S. households have at least one Samsung device, including many smart TVs. Smart TV owners can access Samsung TV free to watch programming, play games and navigate to other subscription streaming apps. This gives Samsung Ads device-level data on TV viewers that other video publishers don’t have.

Dig deeper: How Home Depot and Kroger use RMNs to improver shoppers’ ad experience

“We have the number one TV viewing data set globally, which means our TVs provide more consumer viewing data than any other manufacturer by almost double,” said Sang Kim, EVP and GM of North America service business at Samsung Electronics. “This means that we have the number one addressable footprint in the U.S.”

Samsung Ads announced a new partnership with KERV Interactive to make ads on the platform shoppable and interactive. Earlier this year, Samsung Ads launched the ability for advertisers to run QR codes with ads.

They also announced the rollout of digital out-of-home (DOOH) ads later this year, which includes connections to in-store retail partners. This provides an alternative or supplement to brands who are advertising to customers through retailer-owned retail media networks (RMNs).

New programs and ad capability

Amazon Live, Prime Video and Freevee. Amazon’s FAST streaming service Freevee announced it will debut new original programming in 2024, including “Mock the Week,” a panel show produced by comedian Trevor Noah.

Prime Video, which debuted Thursday Night Football last season, announced a new capability for national advertisers to send different commercials to different viewers through Amazon’s Fire TV devices. It also announced that the NFL’s first Black Friday game, aired on November 24, will be free to view for anyone in the U.S.

Also, Amazon Live will have expanded live shoppable entertainment allowing viewers to shop while they watch. New shoppable episodes of “Black Girl Stuff,” — produced by REVOLT, Sean “Diddy” Combs’s media company — will be shown beginning later this month.

Colleen Aubrey, senior vice president, ad products and tech for Amazon Ads, said the company wants to make “sense of the signals [and] insights at our disposal to create an optimal customer experience that drives business outcomes.”

YouTube. YouTube is bringing smart advertising to short videos. They announced that its YouTube Select brand safety platform will become available to advertisers of YouTube Shorts content. According to the company, 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users view Shorts monthly.

Addressing addressability

Measurement and addressability. All the presenters mentioned their reach and datasets. But what about larger concerns across the digital advertising industry related to addressability? Last year, Cohen referred to this challenge as a “slow-motion train wreck.”

“We have always said that the future of addressability will be a portfolio of solutions it won’t be a simple replacement of the third-party cookies or identifier with something else,” Cohen told MarTech today. “Clean rooms, contextual, seller-defined audiences, cohorts, and many other innovations have been introduced into the marketplace.”

He added, “We continue to push all players in the ecosystem to test, learn, and deploy as the future will undoubtedly not fit into the containers of the past. Now is the time to get in the game.”

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