Smart TV-Delivered Content and Commerce Plays Rule at IAB's 2023 NewFronts

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
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The Interactive Advertising Bureau on May 3 utilized a key strategy from its event playbook for opening the second half of NewFronts 2023 -- bringing a variety of content, audience measurement and technology outlets together in one place at one time for an all-day round of short presentations. Convene's in-the-round auditorium at its Battery Park City facility, a few blocks from the 9/11 Memorial, was the gathering site. (Note: You can read all our 2023 NewFront coverage here.)

The Big Message: Smart TV products and the programming services distributed through them will become the dominant medium advertisers and agencies deploy to regularly reach viewers. That reality will only grow in the years ahead if both camps can back up their viewership with reliable, comprehensive measurement processes, and if there are more advertising options deployed from brand content studios to commerce and other interactive formats. "I need to see more commerce-directed activity," proposed dentsu Media Americas Chief Executive Officer Doug Rozen in the middle of LG’s pitch for its Ad Solutions unit. "The more we get of that, the better we are as marketers."

Host:Maria Menounos, former entertainment newsmagazine anchorperson/reporter who introduced virtual NewFront segments in recent years. She kept things moving in poised fashion at all times. "It's essential to have this event every year, so we can all learn together," she said in greeting the audience for the first time in-person. "In case you don’t know me, I'm a nice person."

What Worked:"The Wizard Of Yaaas," Revry's quarter-hour-long musical satire of classic MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. Everything about this production clicked, starting with a spot-on rendition of the movie’s opening credits, then moving to the clever back-and-forth from the on-stage performers to clips from coming Revry attractions. Throw in co-founder Damian Pelliccione’s take on The Good Witch and socko dancing and voguing from the supporting cast (reportedly put together by Madonna’s new choreographer) and you had one of the best NewFront/Upfront turns in a long while. Making this accomplishment extra special: Revry being the first LGBTQ+ venture involved in a NewFront showcase.

What Also Worked: Making sure the lineup of presenting companies balanced content sources with data/technology firms such as Innovid, Comscore, Samba TV, TransUnion and Teads. Programming ventures owned by and targeted to Latinos were well-represented -- Estrella Media, Canela Media, LATV and Americano Media had individual segments.

What Didn’t Work: Most presentations went one of two ways: video montage followed by speaker/speakers on-stage, illustrating their points with clips or graphics behind them, or quick interviews and roundtables with the subjects arranged in advance. A few more inventive approaches like Revry's can do a lot to keep audience interest in an all-day event high. Some ideas: live audience Q&A time, advertiser testimonials, comedy sketches or short-form game shows which highlight new initiatives. And what about Menounos doing a celebrity interview on the spot?

Data Points: Smart TV product and content spending reached $18.6 billion last year, rising 22 percent from 2021 and tripling the $6.2 billion advertisers and brands spent on social media last year. That’s according to IAB’s latest digital video report, which projects $22.5 billion in ad buys for smart TV makers and services this year, up 21 percent from 2022. Social media ad buys will top $7.5 billion this year. Two-thirds of ad spenders participating in IAB’s report consider smart TV campaigns a must, compared to 38 percent for linear broadcast/cable TV networks and 32 percent for local broadcast/cable TV campaigns.


BBC -- Look for at least one new U.S.-distributed channel with ad support to launch through smart TV sets and devices, or multichannel bundles, before the end of the year.

Crackle -- New original series ahead from the megacontent service and its sister Chicken Soup for the Soul ad-supported channels include At Home with lifestyle TV personality Genevieve Gorder and Just for Kicks, covering the world of sneaker drops and collectors. Interactive ads where viewers can purchase products or services with their voice or voice remote will be introduced later this year. Cinedigm and Vidgo are the latest multichannel bundle offerings working with Crackle Connex, the just-launched ad sales organization.

Revry -- King of Drag and Pride Ball will be among the new series launched this fall. Also on tap: an annual QueerX Awards special.

Canela Media -- More than 2,000 hours of original Spanish-language programming will run on Canela’s networks during the 2023-24 season, including the first of 40 made-for-TV movies in various genres.

LATV -- Expect 12 original series to begin this fall, including Royal-T, La Vida Green/The Green Life and Ganadoras/Winners.

Parting Words:

"I've been to every NewFront presentation and I’m A) exhausted and B) inspired." -- David Cohen, Interactive Advertising Bureau Chief Executive Officer

"Our Chicken Soup for the Soul destination is part HGTV, part Lifetime and part Hallmark Channel." -- Crackle Connex President of Advertising Sales Darren Olive

"The free ad-supported channel industry is booming. It's still time to get in, if you're not in already. This is now part of a consumer's TV world." -- Rene Santaella, Estrella Media's Chief Digital Officer

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