Editor’s Note: Video Is the Latest Battlefront in the Struggle for Consumers’ Attention

Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat the main combatants

In pulling together our annual Video Issue this year, which we publish on the first day of the fifth annual Digital Content NewFronts, I had to gut check our coverage plan several times as news hit during the weeks just before deadline that altered and elevated digital video's place in the media and marketing landscape.

Facebook, for example, continues to shape the future. Video is definitely a priority for the social giant, and Facebook Live video content is being created by a wide array of publishers, including Adweek, and viewed there at growing pace and volume. And at its F8 conference earlier this month, Facebook dropped a considerable amount of new innovation into the marketplace that will have a material effect on video and pretty much every modern media form. I'm still noodling over the mashup of Messenger, brands and chatbots. Is it AI-powered marketing at scale? See, it's easy to get distracted.

As official media partner of the NewFronts, we at Adweek continue our collaboration with the IAB. The roundtable discussion was a joint effort to hear from first-time presenters—from established brands like Hearst and Turner to those on the upswing like AwesomenessTV, SheKnows Media and NowThis—on why they joined the two-week video extravaganza and what they see as challenges and opportunities. The discussion surfaced fascinating talking points around managing video investment against the backdrop of a schizophrenic distribution landscape. Forward-leaning terminology was sprinkled throughout, from esports to video brand storytelling and—as Christian Tom, vp of sales for NowThis, coined it—the new "scrolling economy" being ushered in by Snapchat and the Gen Z cohort that devours it at the clip of 10 billion video views a day.

YouTube continues to be a massive compendium of video whose revenue-generating history has always felt underwhelming. Staff writer Lauren Johnson's cover story examines the video giant's multipronged path toward securing a bigger chunk of TV ad dollars through its keen ability to discover stars/influencers like Rachel Levin, who graces our cover, designed by creative director Ron Goodman. In the six years since she joined YouTube, beauty expert Levin has broken the 1 billion mark in views, and she has a bright future.

Two of our most popular franchises, Data Points, edited by senior editor Carrie Cummings, and Perspective, written by senior brand editor Robert Klara, focus, respectively, on the views the presidential candidates' ads are tallying, and how the longest-running TV show in history, The Simpsons, has kept itself fresh in viewers' minds through its exposure on Hulu.

Finally, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg officially kicks off the 2016 NewFronts with his Voice column. Rothenberg posits that digital video has become the ultimate equalizer, and that players from any media sector, print, television and social that meet the burgeoning consumer demand for high-quality video will rise above the binary—and, I feel, the soon-to-be-antique classification of old and new media. Strong video will simply be good media for the always-on, autoplay world in which we now live.

Enjoy the 39 presentations over the next two weeks. We will cover each one, so check Adweek.com for updates, analysis and roundups. We'll follow that up with a long-tail hub showcasing the video presented during the NewFronts and organized by buying demos. We're going to try and pace ourselves over the next 10 days—you should, too. After all, the broadcast upfront week is up next.

This story first appeared in the May 2, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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