Grab Grabs Newfront Dollars

Upstart video distribution firm inking 7-figure deals

It’s way too soon to tell whether the spate of Newfront/upfront type events held this spring will pay off for the digital ad world in the form of a flood of TV dollars. After all, much of the new content showcased at these events, held by Yahoo, YouTube, AOL and a dozen others, has yet to even debut.

But one company is boasting of an early, albeit modest, Newfront windfall. Grab Media, which distributes video content across the Web for the likes of NBCUniversal, Yahoo, Telemundo and Univision, says it's already inking seven-figure deals as a result of participating in several Newfronts this past April and May. “The market is moving,” said CEO Alvin Bowles, who estimated that Grab would pull in five to six times as much revenue during this upfront season versus last. “We’re not looking to sign $50 million deals. We’re selling ourselves as an audience extension.”

Bowles declined to provide specifics, but per sources, Grab has recently nabbed seven-figure upfront buys with a pair of CPG advertisers, as well as two brands specifically targeting Hispanics. The company is looking at an eight-figure upfront overall—impressive in a category dominated by the YouTubes and Hulus of the world.

According to comScore, Grab’s video view numbers have soared by 210 percent over the past year—tops in the category. That growth is partially the result of a growing stable of partners, including Reuters and Martha Stewart Living, which have helped Grab see its users base soar from 7.4 million unique users in April 2011 to 23.1 million this year.

Bowles likens the company’s distribution approach to a classic TV syndication model (drawing a distinction between Grab and video ad networks like YuMe). “We’re like CBS TV or Warner Brothers,” he claimed. “Instead of stations, our partners are websites. And we’re focused on quality.”