AOL Takes NewFront Off the Stage and Onto NYC Streets

Dubbed 'Access,' AOL's Event Will Be Open to Consumers

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Credit: AOL
AOL is taking its NewFront from the stage to New York City streets. The company is commanding a stretch of the South Street Seaport to showcase everything from Huffington Post to Verizon's Go90.

Dubbed "Access," AOL's first NewFront as part of Verizon, which acquired the company in June 2015, is designed to emulate how people consume content, said Allie Kline, chief marketing officer, AOL.

"We need to evolve the way we communicate with each other from a business-to-business standpoint the way consumers have evolved the way they communicate," she said.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all presentation, attendees will receive a curated experience based on their audience targets and interest, Ms. Kline said. So if you are a technology brand, for example, you may want to spend more time at AOL's technology and autos activation, where you will be able to view content, meet talent and interact directly with brands like TechCrunch and Engadget.

AOL will feature spaces dedicated to news, technology and autos, entertainment, sports and music. Within each space, there will be anywhere from three to six brands showcasing their content.

When the NewFronts started back in 2008, many digital publishers looked to mimic the TV upfront practice, which consisted of executives talking up their programming, sizzle reels of new content and showcasing stars of shows. Not much has evolved since, Ms. Kline said.

While premium digital video continues to be in high demand, there's a fatigue among many in the industry over the sheer influx in content, much of which is often forgotten in the weeks following the presentations.

In this way, AOL hopes to break through the clutter and inject some fun back into the process.

Aside from AOL's own assets like Huffington Post and Makers, the company will feature partners it doesn't own or operate. "We are putting brands that in some cases could be considered competition side-by-side our own brands," Ms. Kline said.

The massive event will be open to both industry executives and consumers, with AOL anticipating several thousands of people in attendance.

Ultimately, AOL wants to show media buyers and their clients how their brands resonate with consumers.

"Instead of talking at them, we will let them experience our content as consumers and alongside consumers," Ms. Kline said.

By opening up the event to the general public, marketers will get a chance to see how consumers interact with AOL's brands in real life, which Ms. Kline said is more valuable than "leaning back and listening."

It's also a reprieve from the grueling two-week stretch of NewFront presentations, when media buyers and their clients can go up to three presentations a day.

"The industry doesn't need to sit through another hour-and-a-half to two-hour NewFront," Ms. Kline said.

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