IAB: NewFront Deals Coming, Just Not Right Away

Survey says buyers see big value, but TV gets to go first

Aside from an AOL deal allegedly closed during the company's NewFront, the Web video ad market has been relatively quiet of late. And despite much talk that Web video companies would be able to steal share from TV, the TV upfront proceeded as usual, with some pretty solid increases and little evidence of stolen dollars.

However, the Interactive Advertising Bureau says that the NewFronts were a great success, and that a slew of deals will likely close before the end of the year. According to a new IAB survey, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of surveyed media buyers claim to have found at least one compelling ad opportunity for their specific client(s) at the NewFronts, and 70 percent predicted TV dollars will shift to the Web over the next year.

In addition, a third of NewFront attendees say the NewFronts "positively impacted their plans for digital video advertising buys," per the IAB's report. Overall, 5,000 executives attended at least some part of the 17 NewFronts held this past spring, said the IAB.

"This survey isn't scientific, but it provides a pretty good cross-section. And the fact that you have most people walking away from the NewFronts with at least one specific idea for their clients is a big deal," said IAB president and CEO Randy Rothenberg. "It's very significant to see that sort of impact from that week."

So why has it been so quiet? Rothenberg acknowledged that the Web video world still has to get in line behind TV, as most clients weren't likely to make big decisions about their online budgets until the TV upfront was done. "You'll see a lot of activity happen later in the year, in the third or fourth quarter," he said. "It's a TV-first model, so you had a lot of NewFront attendees saying, 'Let's see what's good, pick out the most interesting opportunities and we'll go back.' But there's still a TV-first approach."

What about the post NewFront back-and-forth series of open letters between buyers and sellers over how Web video needs to improve? Rothenberg said those public discussions led to a "healthy exchange that's been extraordinarily productive. Both sides need to work hard."

While the overall NewFront vibe was highly positive, the IAB's survey did find one point of contention. They were too long. Seventy-four percent of attendees requested shorter event times at next year's NewFronts.