Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. John McCarus, SVP, Group Director, Brand Content at Digitas - an innovative brand content strategist and digital programming dealmaker about the rise of the digital NewFronts hosted by Digitas and the future of digital content.

Roger Mahoney - Why did you decide to open up the NewFronts to other companies this year?

John McCarus - The motive to open up the NewFronts and collaborate with other companies this year was twofold, from the practical to the significant:

1. To create a native digital content marketplace; similar to the broadcast upfront creating a network broadcast marketplace. One company hosting a digital upfront is just that-one company hosting a digital upfront. Over 20 companies hosting a digital upfront within a short span of time is a marketplace.

2. To put an exclamation point on the need and urgency to focus and invest in quality at scale online video and native digital content.

The inaugural Digital Content NewFronts (DCNF) created an industry-wide residence for the digital marketplace as it rises in prominence. Recent spending and consumer behavior trends reinforce the growing opportunities for brands to engage consumers via online video content: According to eMarketer, online ad spend in the United States is expected to grow by 23.3% to $39.5 billion in 2012. · U.S. Online VIDEO AD spending grew by 52.1% in 2011. (Source: eMarketer) · By 2015, video ad spending will reach $7.1 billion, up from $2.16 billion in 2011. (Source: eMarketer) · 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 37 billion online content videos in March 2012, and in that same month video ads topped 8 billion for the first time on record. (Source: comScore)

RM - Do you think since the New Front these digital channels become what cable is today?

McCarus - Many people have said that the development of original channels on the web feels very similar to the origin of cable -- but that was 30 years ago. If you believe that analogy, the only difference today is the speed of evolution and formation; what took cable 30 years to accomplish will happen on the web in a fraction of the time. The main difference is scale, because the opportunity for much greater scale (even given the long tail audience) on the web is clear.

RM - From advertising stand point, what specific things do agencies look for when they want partner with a digital content company?

McCarus - We look for: - Track record - Aggregating existing audience (i.e., do they already have an audience) - Creativity: in ideas and in partnerships - Their ability to help the brand partner leverage their existing audience & channels - Innovative ways they engage audiences in dialogue What is NOT first and foremost is their existing scale/audience. We can always get scale.

RM - If you could make a future prediction, What does the future look like for the relationship between brands and all these new digital platforms?

McCarus - First, as brands become publishers, everyone will learn how to work together to leverage each other's audiences and distribute each other's content for mutual gain.

Second, with the arrival of the fully social web, publishers will need to work harder to leverage the earned opportunity as part of their core audience strategy. This will redefine their value to their brand partners.

Thank you John

Roger Maloney is the VP of Vanguarde Consulting Group and company that prepare small business for the digital age. Roger can be reached at rogermaloney@hotmail.com.

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