The 2016 Digital Content NewFronts Were Defined by Partnerships

It takes a village to create quality cross-platform content

In digital video, it's not every company for itself—it's a team effort. And that's a good thing.

Anna BagerKevin Scanlon for Adweek

It can take a village to help advertisers connect with the audiences they crave as consumers jump from platform to platform, device to device looking for their beloved content wherever they happen to land. And in this year's Digital Content NewFronts, digital video companies demonstrated that they have this village.

More than ever, this year's NewFronts presenters used their precious stage time to promote not only their content, but also their relationships with a range of platforms, publishers, content creators and others, including disparate departments within their own companies.

Hearst presented its own digital video platform, of course, but also spotlighted many of the other channels that could help marketers reach their audience. For example, the publisher shared its stage with Snapchat to showcase how they could work together for advertisers, and it announced a partnership with Facebook Live. Hearst also emphasized its own cross-platform, print and TV opportunities.

At Hulu's event, the streaming service announced a partnership with BrightLine to give consumers interactive advertising experiences on their TV screens and with Havas Media as the agency to go to for these new interactive ads. Additional partnerships Hulu announced were with Millward Brown for insights and Nielsen for measurement.

Meanwhile, Buzzfeed revealed that more than 75 percent of its content views come from outside, largely on Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube. Conde Nast Entertainment announced a distribution partnership with Comcast, and National Geographic revealed its first Instagram video series.

All this collaboration shows that companies are working together to create the perfect storm of offerings—access to consumers across the ecosystem, access to data from multiple streams and, most importantly, access to a wealth of brilliant content. This final piece deserves special emphasis: content. This entire village exists and thrives solely because there is so much exciting, must-watch digital video content. Without such outstanding programming, there would be no audience looking for it on their big-screen TVs or on Facebook, Snapchat YouTube and other platforms. This is a core tenet of the NewFronts: Content comes first.

Developments announced this year bring together Hollywood stars like Chloe Sevigny for Refinery29, sports stars like Kobe Bryant for Time Inc. and cutting-edge virtual reality technology that will bring audiences of The New York Times on a trip to Pluto. The power of digital video content is also evident in its volume. AOL announced its intention to triple its video production, and Vice said it will build a whopping 20 TV networks and six more digital channels.

While distribution deals certainly are essential, that's the mortar between the bricks. Content is what draws audiences in and keeps them there. It's what adds more wonder, enlightenment and laughter to people's lives. And today, people have more choice and are consuming more of it than ever—after all, it's on nearly every platform they turn to.

This is the read-between-the-lines lineup of this year's NewFronts presentations: an abundance of high quality content, powerful vast distribution networks and hungry audiences, the hat trick driving the success of all major media.

Anna Bager (@annabager) is svp and general manager, mobile and video at the IAB.