Facebook won't be presenting at next year's Digital Content NewFronts after all.
The social network had been in initial talks with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which manages the NewFronts, to get involved with the digital-video industry's premier event but has decided otherwise.
"The NewFronts has a stellar roster for 2015 that includes major digital outfits, blue-chip media companies that have traditional roots in TV and print, as well as a range of innovative web startups. While we had been in discussions with Facebook about participation in the NewFronts as well, the company ultimately decided that this wasn't the right time for them to join the lineup," said the IAB's Senior VP-Mobile and Video Anna Bager.
Facebook's decision was put down to the fact that the NewFronts largely center on companies pitching original shows and Facebook has no plans to produce original programming, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A Facebook spokesman declined to comment. Adweek reported earlier this week that Facebook planned to present at next year's NewFronts.
The NewFronts borrow from the TV industry's annual upfront presentations when broadcast and cable networks show off their upcoming programming slate to rooms full of advertisers. Similar to those presentations, the digital video publishers detail their services and any original programming plans in front of advertisers in hopes of landing sponsorship deals and negotiating ad packages.
Unlike the TV upfronts, not all NewFronts presenters have original programs to pitch. For example, Publicis Groupe agency DigitasLBi isn't a publisher and instead touts its partnership deals like last year's deal with BuzzFeed. And in past years YouTube has used its NewFronts presentation to talk up its creators and audience in hopes of getting advertisers to buy against YouTube (or a chunk of YouTube) as opposed to a single show. Facebook could have adopted YouTube's strategy and talked up the creators and brands who distribute their content on its properties, but obviously that won't be the case.
While Facebook won't be at next year's NewFronts, a host of new companies will be. This year's NewFronts rookies include Fullscreen, Machinima, Refinery29 and HealthiNation. Last year's first-timers who are returning this year include Vice, Disney's Maker Studios, Time Inc., Time Warner Cable and Mode Media (née Glam Media). And then there are the regulars like Google's YouTube, Yahoo, Hulu, AOL and Microsoft with a few others like BuzzFeed and National Geographic mixed in for good measure.
The complete two-week schedule is below.
Facebook's participation would have been a coup for the NewFronts as it looks to be more than the stepchild to TV's annual upfront presentations. NewFronts presenters have had a hard time attracting big enough audiences to become a higher priority than TV for reach-hungry advertisers. As a result some media buyers still wait until after the TV upfronts to secure their NewFronts deals, though that's beginning to change.
Of course the NewFronts haven't been around as long as the TV upfronts, which started in the middle of the last century. Publicis Groupe's DigitasLBi created the NewFronts in 2008 as a way to forge deals among its clients and digital-video companies. In 2012 the agency brought AOL, YouTube, Hulu, Microsoft and Yahoo into the fold to formalize it into the digital version of TV's annual upfronts presentations. DigitasLBi handed oversight of the NewFronts over to the Interactive Advertising Bureau last year.
Facebook isn't the only company that could spark advertisers' interest by getting involved with the NewFronts for the first time. There's also Amazon. The e-commerce giant has never presented at NewFronts, though until this year it didn't have much of a video-ad business either. At Cannes this year Amazon execs talked up the company's video business with advertisers and agency execs, but kept the conversation fairly generic with little detail of its plans.
At the moment, it appears Amazon will be staying home again next year, but things could change between now and April. "We have a few more spots we're still looking to fill," Ms. Bager said. She declined to say whether the IAB has any companies in mind to take those spots. As for the 25 companies confirmed to present, here's the full calendar of when they'll take the stage.
Monday, April 27
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: The New York Times
- Noon - 2:00 pm: BuzzFeed
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Microsoft
- 6:00 - 8:00 pm: Yahoo
Tuesday, April 28
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: Maker Studios
- Noon - 2:00 pm: Mode Media
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Condé Nast
- 6:00 - 8:00 pm: AOL
Wednesday, April 29
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: Hulu
- Noon - 2:00 pm: Sony/Crackle
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Refinery29
- 6:00 - 8:00 pm: Google/YouTube
Thursday, April 30
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: Time Inc.
- 2:00 - 5:30 pm: DigitasLBi
- 6:00 - 8:00 pm: Popsugar and Vevo
Friday, May 1
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: The Wall Street Journal
- Noon - 2:00 pm: Time Warner Cable
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Vice
Monday, May 4
- Noon - 2:00 pm: Fullscreen
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Machinima
Tuesday, May 5
- 9:00 am - 11:00 am: Discovery
- 3:00 - 5:00 pm: National Geographic
- 6:00 - 8:00 pm: HealthiNation
Wednesday, May 6
- Noon - 5:00 pm: IAB NewFronts Research Lunch