The 10 biggest newsbytes from the 2014 NewFronts

The third NewFronts digital media showcase has been the biggest and most audacious yet, with major digital publishers like BuzzFeed, YouTube, Conde Nast and Vice showing up with celebrities, concerts and loads of new original programming. Held in New York by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, NewFronts is the digital media industry’s answer to television upfronts: […]

The third NewFronts digital media showcase has been the biggest and most audacious yet, with major digital publishers like BuzzFeed, YouTube, Conde Nast and Vice showing up with celebrities, concerts and loads of new original programming.

Held in New York by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, NewFronts is the digital media industry’s answer to television upfronts: the big digital players show off all their new content, announce strategic partnerships and try and attract big brand advertisers. This year the attempts to draw dollars away from TV were loud and clear, with almost every major publisher promising that their premium, original online video can compete with cable.

If you don’t care much for all the fanfare, here are the highlights worth knowing about:

BuzzFeed partners with Digitas for branded content studio

Publicis’s DigitasLBi, the only agency to make a presentation at NewFronts, is setting up a desk at its New York office for “resident marketers” from Buzzfeed. The digital agency and viral publisher will work together to produce real-time branded content featuring breaking news, trends and pop culture, as well as ongoing social strategies for selected brands, and branded channels on BuzzFeed’s site.

YouTube points brands to top-quality video with Google Preferred
To try and create scarcity on a site that generates 100 hours of video every minute, Google is launching an initiative that helps advertisers identify, buy and measure the top 5% of content on the site. The new program, Google Preferred, highlights the site’s most popular content in verticals like food, music and entertainment. Google bolstered its commitment to brand advertisers with a plug for its new minimum-size audience guarantee, which it provides based on third-party measurement from both Nielsen and comScore.

Everyone and their brother launches a video hub
Anyone who went to NewFronts without a dedicated vertical for digital video left with one. Conde Nast will launch The Scene, featuring content from its magazines as well as from content partners like ABC, BuzzFeed and Variety; Time Inc. plans to launch The Daily Cut with video from People, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated; the New York Times launched Times Video, which will feature video versions of popular print segments and columns; the Wall Street Journal launched “Signal,” a digital video magazine that will feature recurring contributors, short documentaries and viral snippets; and Mode Media (formerly Glam Media) is launching a video platform that it says will air original and syndicated video and compete with Netflix.

AOL tests Nielsen TV ratings for digital pureplay series
Amidst a slew of announcements about new content, tech, and strategic partnerships, AOL said it plans to pioneer TV-compatible program ratings for its 16 original series. The ratings will be assessed by partner Nielsen, and used to draw more TV brand dollars into digital video.

Glam Media rebrands as Mode to show it can attract men, too
Fashion and lifestyle publisher network Glam Media changed its name to Mode Media to signal its pivot into gadget and auto verticals for men. Before the conference, Mode reportedly raised $15 million in funding, to add to the $200 million stack of venture capital it’s raised since it launched back in 2003. The company says it still does plan to go public, eventually.

Yahoo partners with Live Nation to stream a concert every day

An exclusive content partnership between Yahoo and concert promoter Live Nation will see the digital publisher stream a new concert every day for a year on its Yahoo Live video channel. So far, Kellogg is on board as a key sponsor. Live Nation produces some 20,000 shows per year, so it shouldn’t be a challenge to find 365 to stream.

Digitas debuts SimpleReach video audience dashboard

DigitasLBi demonstrated a new tool to measure the impact of online video ads and branded content by combining pageviews, shares, traffic from social, time spent, unique viewers and other KPIs in a user-friendly dashboard. The new Brand Content Index, created by technology partner SimpleReach, will be available exclusively to Digitas clients in its first year, and after that open up to other users.

Hulu makes mobile streaming free
Subscription streaming service Hulu announced it was tearing down the paywall around its mobile platform to expand its viewing audience. For those without a Hulu Plus subscription, mobile episodes will be supported by advertising. The company also played up a new iPhone app re-launch coming later this year.

Facebook snubs NewFronts, holds f8 same week in SF
Notably absent from NewFronts was every social media company that isn’t YouTube, even though some of them have committed heavily to original and branded content. Facebook even held its annual f8 conference on the same day as YouTube’s NewFront – 4,700km away in San Francisco – putting cross-channel digital marketers in an awkward spot.

Best quote of the conference goes to Vice

Vice co-founder Shane Smith: “Upfronts are weird … We’re here to say ‘Hey look at all this cool shit we’re doing!’ But also, ‘It’s OK to put Crest next to severed heads.’”

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