It appears the “webstars” are on their 14th minute. The major online-video properties are now putting dramatic emphasis on professional content with big celebrity names.
Every year at this time, the television networks showcase their new shows to advertisers in what’s called “up fronts.” This week the major online-video properties (YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL) mimicked this ceremony in what’s called the “Digital Content NewFronts.” For some nice coverage of the NewFronts, see iMedia.
The LA Times is calling it the first-ever event, but I participated in a version of it in 2009 with Tom Green and Paula Deen (hosted by Digitas, a digital agency). This year, however, it’s unmistakably grown. Explains the LA Times:
“The tech companies are taking a page from the Big Four TV networks, which every spring woo advertisers with lavish million-dollar presentations and parties to showcase their fall prime-time schedules.”
This “lavish” activity makes sense, of course. Online video advertising is expected to increase 55% this year, exceeding $3 billion (researcher eMarketer). It’s on track to reach $9.3 billion by 2016.
“With tens of billions of dollars in advertising spending represented in the room, it is a small price to pay to capture the Holy Grail of TV ad spending,” said Yahoo Executive Vice President Ross Levinsohn.
What’s interesting is how the video destinations/distributors are almost excessively touting professional-grade content with celebrity appearances.
- Yahoo showed off Katie Couric’s show called “Katie’s Take.” Clearly Couric’s new-media prowess is a result of my tutoring (see “Save Old Media“).
- Google last night presented its YouTube Originals to more than 2,000 people. Top celebrities have been passing through YouTube’s NYC offices all week (see Amy Poehler with “Key of Awesome” folks Mark Douglas and Todd Womack). Of course I was there yesterday and conveniently missed them all.
- AOL Video shows included such personalities as supermodel Heidi Klum, “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia and former Bravo TV “Top Chef” semifinalist Sam Talbot.
This activity reinforces the increasing convergence of traditional media properties and online-video distributors… especially as TV dollars flow online. A good example is Discovery Channel’s acquisition of Revision3, which is hot off the press.
By 2015 will there be a NewFront? I’d imagine the Upfronts and Newfronts will merge. You?