2019 Newfront Recap

2019 Newfront Recap

Palisades MediaGroup had an exciting and productive week at the 2019 #newfronts. Below are takeaways from the week-long event:

One would be a little tipsy if you took a drink for every mention of brand safety during the 2019 Newfronts. Needless to say, this topic is a prevalent one in our industry and publishers addressed the topic of brand safety, their definition and how to combat advertisers fears in a big way. New York Times even hit head on the consumer privacy issue and how they are developing a “Privacy Project” which will focus on giving users a better understanding of data privacy and who owns their genetic code. Another major distinction of this newfront was the convergence of TV and Digital content. The format and content of most presentations were reminiscent of TV upfronts with video at the center. Several touted high-quality content production that rivals what you see on TV and movie screens.

Key Themes

The recurring theme across all publishers was brand safety and the increasingly blurred lines between ads and content across both TV and digital video. Publishers addressed their definition of brand safety and how to combat advertiser fears in a big way. The New York Times directly addressed consumer privacy issues and how they are developing a “Privacy Project” that will focus on giving users a better understanding of data privacy and who owns their genetic code. Another major theme in the newfronts was the convergence of TV and Digital content. The format and content of most presentations were reminiscent of TV upfronts with video at the center. Several touted high-quality content production that rivals what you see on TV and movie screens.

Bite-size Summary

New York Times

  • New York Times looks to focus on context and how people interact with a story.
  • Contextual targeting is not a thing of the past especially with looming skepticism of audience and data targeting due to privacy discussions. NYT discussed contextual content solutions such as “emotion” and scoring articles based on how it makes a user feel and their motivation.


  • There was an interesting focus on Object Based Media which essentially is dynamic storytelling to fit the individual need of the consumer. Breaking down a show or piece of content to individual parts and then tailoring them based on a user’s interest could very well be an advertiser’s dream to connect with consumers and elevate content relevancy that leads to action.
  • On the brand safety front, BBC encouraged their news counterparts to produce quality news and not fall prey to showing live streams of terrorist or other horrific attacks even if the technology is available.


  • Viacom is embracing content viewing fragmentation by harnessing the power of creative, content, talent, and distribution amongst their acquisitions to fuel brands.
  • Recent acquisitions and partnerships with PlutoTV, WhoSay, Velocity, and Awesomeness showcase their efforts in capturing the GenZ and Millennial audience and having tentacles in every aspect of content creation and distribution.
  • Viacom is clearly focused on creating and gathering high-quality digital video content that advertisers can integrate into or customize which is seen with new digital first shows such as BETs “Black Coffee”, PlutoTV dedicated themed channels and custom series that are made just for brands.


  • More than consumption, it’s connection.
  • Twitter boasted how they continue to drive next level content and work with brands to join the conversation.
  • The main emphasis for Twitter was expanding their live video content particularly around sports, music, news, and pop culture events (e.g. award shows).
  • Expanded partnerships with NFL, Live Nation, MLS, Wall Street Journal, VMAs and BlizzCon showcase the array of live content that will be made available to users.
  • Twitter also announced their next marquee partnership with Viacom, the MTV VMA “Stan Cam”. The new platform will allow users to interact with the award show and users will be able to see attendee performance reactions that they vote for.

Studio 71

  • Studio 71 emphasized its ability to create simplicity in a convoluted marketplace.
  • With the influencer marketing space expanding from a handful of players to a vast ecosystem, Studio 71 focused on the need for brand safety technology (e.g. scanning content comments & tags before the ad is served) and new ways to amplify social content.
  • A new partnership with Spaceback looks to give influencer content scale while utilizing Amazon technology to help predict how audiences will click, download, or purchase via predictive analytics.

Conde Nast

  • Conde Nast continues to leverage influence and provide access to places and people that one normally doesn’t have access to.
  • Conde Nast hit the nail on the head when they stated that there is no scarcity of content but there is a deficit in great content.
  • Their introduction of Conde Nast Primetime has a TV-esque vibe, bringing high quality digital long-form content that plays like TV episodes. Conde Nast has seen watch times increase and is creating videos that cater to content thirsty users.
  • A partnership with Nielsen will enable Conde Nast to measure and prove sales results.

Verizon Media

  • Winning the Digiday award for best food spread is not their only crowning glory, it is Verizon’s promise to deliver next-generation content to be used in 5G.
  • Fittingly, their first-party data capabilities were the main highlight of their presentation given their access to Yahoo! Data.
  • Beyond data, Verizon Media is taking a huge leap at creating content to be used in 5G such as their new “HypeZilla” series, creation of AR and mobile first multi-sensory experiences for various podcast, live streaming, sports, finance, lifestyle, politics/news content.


  • Hulu brought out major star power to propel their original content to new heights.
  • Notable new series to captivate audiences include: Chrissy Teigen & David Chang collaboration, Marvel live-action series “Ghost Rider/Helstrom”, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Zoe Kravitz comedy “High Fidelity”, “Dollface” starring Kat Dennings, “Catch 22” with George Clooney, “Nine Perfect Strangers” via Nicole Kidman and many, many, many more.
  • Hulu also introduced enticing new ad products and lower ad frequency which focuses on a viewer-first approach.
  • Binge ad: Based on a user’s binge behavior, a message will be served (e.g. custom offer, ad-free next episode).
  • Pause ad: ad served when a user pauses their Hulu content.
  • Friends with Benefits: Easter egg style experience where consumers can unlock offers from advertisers.


  • Vice made a bold and applaudable statement by declaring they would no longer accept advertiser black-lists with bias-driven terms, such as refugees, fat, Jewish, HIV, Arab, Muslim, bi-sexual and gay, that embody their very userbase.
  • Vice will also continue to be the go-to source for news amongst Millennials by having election coverage with “The Contenders” to help users better understand who the candidates are.
  • Vice will also produce a new “Vice Guide to Everything” where advertisers can sponsor or create custom editorial and newsletter content guides.


  • Women empowerment was a focal point of the Meredith newfront, from content creation to programming to #SEEHER involvement.
  • Content creation for IG TV will be in full force with over 20 new series.
  • Meredith will continue to focus on entertainment, royals, reality, and food which are representative of their anchor properties (InStyle, People).
  • Keeping true to their cross-channel roots, QR codes will be introduced to continue driving users from Print to Digital content and click-to-cart opportunities will help drive conversion opportunities for advertisers.


  • Lifting of the paywall was the huge buzz from the YouTube Brandcast presentation.
  • YouTube is bringing its original content into the ad-supported model.
  • In true secretive fashion, teasers were given for other large happenings at YouTube which included a project with Justin Bieber and an expanded live-stream partnership with Lollapalooza.
  • YouTube is not one to be left out of the content game and introduced several notable names for original content that leans more towards premium than UGC (e.g. Kevin Hart’s “What the Fit”).
  • Measurement was also given a nod with an announcement surrounding Nielsen Catalina Solutions for Google preferred campaigns that will measure lift in offline sales.

Advertiser & Agency Main Takeaways

  • With video content viewing fragmentation and brand safety concerns, digital publishers are pulling out the big guns to compete with quality content traditionally known only on TV, potentially fueling budget allocation wars.
  • It remains to be seen how the digital ad landscape will change once users start to be educated on privacy and brand safety.
  • The amount of content is increasing exponentially, thankfully for the better, and advertisers will need to carefully choose the best content to align with for heightened relevancy.