It’s that time of the year again, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and advertising are writing checks. Wait, what? Yes folks, it’s TV upfront season, that time when the broadcasters show off what they’ve got in terms of content for placing ads against for later in the year. However, it’s also NewFronts season which is the same thing, but for online video and it smacks of a clever little plan.

In their Q1 2012 Video State of the Industry Report, showed that many brands and agencies have started thinking that TV and online video should be more aligned than TV and online display ads. It makes sense as long as everyone remembers that online video advertising is more than just video, it’s interactive, smart, customizable, location-aware, engaging and lean forward more than TV ever was.

Also in the report from earlier this month,

“48% of brand and agency respondents say that television and online video are already planned together, and 25% who aren’t yet doing so will within the next 12 months.”

That’s just about three-out-of-four so clearly TV and online advertising are seen as complementary to each other. Now, TV advertisers are putting their money, where their mouths were and purchasing online video upfronts during TV upfront season via the Digital NewFronts event.

I’ve noticed that, because of the rise of connected TV which I’ve been talking about a lot, there’s far more crossover suddenly. I can see it being a natural bridge between TV advertising and online video advertising, after all, it’s the latter ending up on the traditional platform of the prior.

However, it seems like brands are not as interested as agencies in doing their online video upfront purchasing during TV upfront season. I have a theory.

I think that’s partly because a big group of online video content publishers including AOL, Yahoo!, Google, Hulu, Microsoft and others like DBG, Disney, etc put together the Digital Content NewFronts from April 19th through May 2nd. A very smart move. Give the brand advertisers the exact same method of purchasing online video advertising as they buy TV advertising.

Think about it, we’re starting to see iGRP (Internet gross rating points) which is a TV-like metric, we’re seeing a NewFronts event which shows brands the content they can purchase ads against and it’s all in hopes of making online video advertising a peer of TV advertising, which we all know it is.

The interesting thing is that NewFronts happened before most major broadcast companies presented their new content for later in the year. For example, here’s the list of presentations after the close of Digital Content NewFronts May 2nd (from the MediaBizBloggers upfront schedule). All the major networks presented their standard TV offerings after NewFronts. On top of that, several major cable broadcasters also presented after NewFronts.

May 3 Scripps Networks Los Angeles Late Afternoon/Evening
May 4 Punch TV Network Los Angeles Evening
May 9 A&E Networks New York Evening
May 10 Home Team Sports (HTS) New York Evening
May 14 NBC-TV New York Morning
May 14 Fox-TV New York Afternoon
May 14 Azteca America New York Evening
May 15 ESPN New York Morning
May 15 Univision New York Morning
May 15 ABC-TV New York Afternoon
May 15 Discovery U.S. Hispanic New York Afternoon
May 15 Telemundo New York Evening
May 16 Turner Broadcasting New York Morning
May 16 estrellaTV New York Brunch
May 16 NCM Media Networks New York Afternoon
May 16 Fox Hispanic Media New York Afternoon
May 16 CBS-TV New York Afternoon
May 16 V-ME New York Afternoon
May 16 Adult Swim New York Evening
May 16 Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más New York Evening
May 17 The CW New York Morning
May 17 USA Network New York Afternoon


If I’m a buyer, I might have been a bit low on cash by then, especially for The CW, which is OK anyway as their content bites, and USA, who I thought would really want to present earlier. I wonder, is it like the NFL draft? Does all the good content and ad placement get done early on? If so, then news wins out because almost all of the major news channels were first to present. Perhaps The CW was hoping they were “saving the best for last,” but if that’s the case, then USA beat them to the punch and they’re just second last… (I’m not a fan of CW shows, angsty teenage vampires aren’t my thing.)

Either way, I have to believe that it was all a well-orchestrated plan on the part of the digital content publishers. You got to present all your new content in a format that the TV advertisers are used to, and you got to do it before the big guns fired their shots at ad buyer pocketbooks, meaning you might have made a dent in them already, or at least, the pocketbooks of the forward-thinking ones.

This isn’t the first time that the digital content publishers have done this sort of presentation, it just happens to be the most interesting because of the rapid fire list of original online series announcements earlier. There seems to be a lot of production money moving into original online content and that might be a signal that the ad money is doing so as well… at least we can all hope it is, right?