Google will attempt to wow advertisers in New York tonight with its fifth annual YouTube Brandcast for the Digital Content NewFronts. Google is being tight-lipped about the entertainment, but it will likely be buzzy—whether trotting out celebrities like Jennifer Garner (2012), Psy (2013), Pharrell and Janelle Monae (2014) or Bruno Mars (2015), YouTube always puts on a show.
Simply put, there's Brandcast at the NewFronts, and then there's everything else. With all due respect to AOL's fine effort on Monday night, nothing really compares to YouTube's three-hour extravaganza. But in the future, it may not always hold court in such dominant fashion as Facebook (including its popular Instagram platform), Twitter and Snapchat increase their video programming.
"The ambition for Facebook and Twitter—with what it's doing with the NFL and destination content that actually pulls people in—they'll have to eventually look at the NewFronts, or someplace like it, as a place to show off their content chops," commented Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC Global.
Paul Berry, CEO and founder of RebelMouse, had a different take.
"They really should be there now," Berry said. "It is an important moment for Facebook and Twitter to be clear not just about brand guidelines, but best practices and what they want to see in the industry. It is a great chance to highlight the best agencies and media companies and the best content campaigns they have seen in the year."
Why aren't they there?
"Unlike YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are just getting their legs in video," answered Christian Brucculeri, CEO of Snaps. "It's going to take some time to roll up enough original content and also prove that they can deliver audience attention against that content to justify selling the inventory."
Brucculeri also remarked, "It's unlikely that either will become a studio or a network as it related to scripted content, but likely they will develop deeper relationships with creators—think YouTube stars—who will create exclusively for the platform in exchange for preferential distribution benefits. I wouldn't be surprised to see Twitter selling Vine content in NewFronts very soon."
What about Snapchat?
"I fully expect Snapchat to be here next year," predicted Chris Tuff, evp/director of business development at 22squared. "2016 is going to be their year where they truly grow up into mainstream."
Overheard at a NewFronts party Wednesday night: "Every presentation is mentioning Snapchat. They are the 'it' platform this year."
To be fair, like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter frequently come up during NewFronts speeches as media players pitch their social reach to ad buyers. And it's possible they may get on stage with media players in the coming days. Therefore, in a way, the platforms are already at the NewFronts.
But what about an official showcase for these platforms? Facebook reps said the idea wasn't currently in the company's plans, Twitter declined comment and Snapchat didn't immediately respond to inquiries on the subject. And the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which runs the NewFronts, didn't offer an answer about the potential for them down the road.
Though marketers believe the platforms' official participation is almost inevitable.
"It might be early for them to do it this year, so I understand why they are not there," Mallin said, specifically addressing Facebook and Twitter. "But that's the ambition. Over the next year, you will probably see both platforms attempt to build the original destination content."
Berry added, "I think Facebook will start showing up the way YouTube has."
If that happens, it'll surely be quite a show.
Lauren Johnson contributed to this article.