BuzzFeed Pulls Out of IAB NewFronts to Host Its Own ‘Experiential Event’

Clients will get a 'peek under the hood'

With short- and longform branded content series under its belt, BuzzFeed looks beyond the NewFronts presentations to talk to clients.
Sources: BuzzFeed

For the first time since its debut in 2014, BuzzFeed will not participate in this year’s Digital Content NewFronts presentations.

NewFronts, a two-week series of panels and presentations put on by publishers and platforms in partnership with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, is a way for those companies to show potential advertisers and marketers their different content approaches.

BuzzFeed has chosen, along with Yahoo, to remove themselves from this year’s schedule. The company will still provide information and inside looks to clients, but as a separate event outside of the NewFront schedule.

“We’re really interested in building a deeper engagement with our clients,” Laura Henderson, svp of marketing for BuzzFeed, told Adweek. “We work differently than other players in the space, and we want to have a more in-depth conversation with partners.”

Henderson joined BuzzFeed, a site that this author used to work for, late last year and was previously the global head of content and media monetization at Mondelez.

BuzzFeed hasn’t released the full details of its new presentation, but Henderson wants clients to understand how the publisher uses technology in its marketing strategies and creation of branded content.

“Tech and data are at the center of what we do,” she said. “We’ve been using them to inform our creative development decisions for years at scale, including some of the 600 new pieces of content we create each day.”

For BuzzFeed, this isn’t a dismissal of what the NewFronts mean for publishers and advertisers. More platforms, like Twitter, have decided to join the line-up just this year, as they choose to show their video offerings to potential clients.

“There is a lot of investment around the NewFronts and Upfronts season,” she said, “but we’re doing business all year round. We happen to see huge power when our clients engage with us upstream, and we want to inform them how to unlock new opportunities.”

“BuzzFeed is an innovator in the digital video space,” said Anna Bager, the svp and gm for mobile and video with the IAB. “While we’ll miss them on the NewFronts roster this year, the IAB is excited to have the company join the IAB Digital Video Center Board of Directors and we look forward to working together on future initiatives.”

Henderson noted that “BuzzFeed had a great year last year.” Despite earlier rumors in 2016 that revenue projections had been slashed from 2015, BuzzFeed ended the year with another large investment from NBCUniversal.

To that end, the decision to remove BuzzFeed from the NewFronts lineup this year was not based on the cost it takes to be a part of the official schedule.

“We’ll probably end up spending much more by putting on the event ourselves,” said Henderson.

BuzzFeed’s event will “allow clients to get a peek under the hood, show off the tools our marketing team already uses and give them a first-hand experience of what we can do for them,” she said.

Shifts in the NewFronts schedule are typically par for the course,” said Bager. “Safe to say you can expect some new names joining the lineup in the weeks to come.”