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Facebook Turns Away From NewFronts Over Lack of Original Content

Social network was removed from schedule

UPDATE: Facebook has been removed from the 2015 NewFronts schedule because the company didn't plan to present original content.

The tentative 2015 NewFronts lineup obtained by Adweek on Wednesday afternoon showed Facebook was slated to present between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., April 30. Facebook said that it decided before the slate was officially released on Thursday morning that it was not going to participate.

"We had initial talks with the IAB about participating in the NewFronts, and as we got closer to the schedule being confirmed, we had more in-depth conversations about the goals of the NewFronts and IAB's vision for the event," a Facebook rep said via email. "Since Facebook does not produce original content, we decided it doesn't make sense for us to participate at this time."

Anna Bager, svp of mobile and video at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, said the decision was mutual. "We had been talking to Facebook about the potential of joining the roster as well, but after some back and forth, we both determined that this wasn't the right moment for them to take part," she said.

After speaking with multiple sources close to the situation, Adweek reported on Monday that Facebook would have a slot at the NewFronts. Sources said that Facebook and the IAB had been in discussions for months about participating but had not 100 percent committed when the IAB began widely releasing the schedule on Thursday. However, an insider with knowledge about the event countered Facebook's claims, saying the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company was asked by the IAB not to participate because it had no proprietary digital programming to show at its presentation.

In the official press release for the 2015 NewFronts schedule, IAB reiterated its dedication to original programing. "Last year's NewFronts provided a defining moment for original digital video programming, as marketers, media buyers and the press were wowed by knockout presentations that not only turned heads, but moved dollars," said Bager. "Consumers are captivated by original digital video, whether watching it on a computer, tablet, smartphone or Internet-connected TV, and with this annual marketplace fueling buy-side interest and demand, the sky could be the limit for this new form of programming."

The NewFronts began in 2012 as a response to television's annual Upfronts, an opportunity for advertisers to preview upcoming programming. Facebook was part of the inaugural 2014 IAB Digital Upfronts U.K. in October, but did not present original content at that time. What Facebook intended to show in 2015—and why it was allowed to present in the U.K. but not in the U.S.—is unclear.

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