What I Learned by Missing the First Week of Digital Content NewFronts

What I Learned by Missing the First Week of Digital Content NewFronts

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I confess: I didn’t attend any of the 21 events that were held last week in New York City as thedigital content newfronts 2015 first part of the 2015 Digital Content NewFronts. I had to keep my nose to the grindstone in Boston. And, although I tried to keep up with all the news coverage of the presentations by 21 out of the 33 largest, most important, and innovative digital video and technology leaders, there were more than 158 stories about “NewFronts” in Google News during the past week.

And I’ve read less than 10% of them. However, I still learned at least a few things by being “on the outside looking in” that internet marketers and video content producers will want to know.

#1 Marketers to Increase Digital Video Ad Spend

First of all, 68% of marketers and agency executives expect to see their digital video ad budgets increase in the next 12 months, according to the second annual “Digital Content NewFronts: Digital Video Spend Study.” The survey of 305 buy-side professionals was conducted by Advertiser Perceptions and released last week by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).IAB survey

Optimism about video marketing has led to an increase in budget allocation by brand advertisers and media buyers, with the former sector increasing its commitment to digital video by a 90% from 2013 to 2015.

For the most part, the buy-side expects that greater investment in digital video will come from rising advertising budgets in 2015, and a shift in funds away from broadcast and cable television. Two-thirds (67%) of the survey’s respondents said that they anticipate their broadcast and cable TV ad budgets to stay the same or decrease in the next year.

The study further revealed that 67% of marketers and agency executives believe that original digital video will become as important as original TV programming within the next 3 to 5 years. In order to close the gap between digital video and TV programming, both groups will be looking for digital to demonstrate its ability to develop effective sales and branding opportunities, and produce metrics that are consistent with TV.

Aren’t Content Creators Fleeing YouTube and Flocking to Facebook?

Last October, I took a skeptical look at the lies, damned lies, and statistics that claimed, “Marketers are increasingly turning to Facebook for video content – opting away from the YouTube-first, Facebook second approach that was so common.”

Perhaps the best rebuttal of this claim came from John Green, an author and a videoblogger, who spoke at YouTube’s Brandcast event in Madison Square Garden. Here’s what he told the audience of advertisers:

“Unlike the other people onstage here tonight, I’m not here to entertain you. I’m not here to educate you. Tonight, I’m here to scare you. See, most people onstage tonight are arguing why you should advertise on YouTube. But I’m going to offer you something different. I’m going to offer you a vision of what will happen if you don’t.

We’re in the community business, and number of eyeballs is a terrible metric for my business. I can say, ‘Our videos have been viewed more than a billion times’ and it sounds impressive, but it’s not actually an important number. I don’t care how many people watch or read something I make. I care how many people love what I make. And that love is tougher to measure.”

Actually, you should probably watch Green’s entire remarks at YouTube’s 2015 Brandcast.

Why are Advertising Executives Rooting for Facebook?

So, how did advertisers respond to Green’s message? Last week, I invited marketers and agency executives to contact me if they were willing to spill the beans – off-the-record – about why it seems like advertisers are rooting for Facebook video ads. Well, I heard from the president of one agency, who said that he was hoping that Facebook video ads would enable his clients to circumvent the IT departments that have blocked YouTube in many large organizations.

Now, many IT departments did block YouTube years ago when it appeared to be an unproductive place where lazy employees would go to waste time. But they also blocked Facebook at the same time. Back in 2013, Easynet Global Services and Ipanema Technologies conducted a study of 650 IT decision makers from businesses in the UK, US and Europe with at least 1,000 employees. They found social media restrictions were most common in the US, with 69% of companies restricting access to Facebook and 65% restricting access to YouTube.

So, Facebook video ads aren’t likely to help marketers or agency executives to reach many consumers or business buyers that YouTube can’t reach … via desktops.

Isn’t Facebook Ahead of YouTube on Mobile Devices?

I also heard from a senior vice president at a multinational conglomerate, who said she had just disabled autoplay for Facebook videos after she got her phone bill last month. It was 20% higher than normal. She initially thought that it may have been caused by downloading a couple of new apps to her iPhone 6, but it turned out to be driven primarily by data charges for video autoplay on her Facebook News Feed. Yes, she’d heard that the number of videos watched on Facebook has quadrupled since last summer, and now totals over 4 billion per day. But, she wonders how many of these were intrusive and unwelcome.

youtube mobile 2015And last week, she also heard that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had said at an event for advertisers in New York City last week that YouTube is now reaching more people in the oh-so-coveted 18-49-year-old age demographic on mobile than any cable network. How is that even possible?

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. Smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans, as well as those with relatively high income and education levels.

Note: On an iPhone, just go to Settings and scroll down until you find Facebook. Tap on it and then tap Settings. Next, tap on the Autoplay setting and choose either Wi-Fi only or Off so you don’t use a big chunk of your monthly data allotment on Facebook videos.

The Net, Net

So, no, I’m not hung over from attending too many parties at the 2015 Digital Content NewFronts, which got underway last week and continues this week. And I didn’t any selfies with content creators.

Maybe that’s why I’ve discovered that marketers and agency executives aren’t the only the people who will decide the winners in the online video and internet marketing industries. The content creators are also going to play a major role. And in the U.S., about two-thirds of the IT departments and about two-thirds of American adults who own a smartphone will also play key roles. So, get your program here. You can’t tell the players without a program.


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