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IAB Will Now Lead the Digital Content NewFronts

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The Digital Content NewFronts, a series of presentations and sales meetings held in New York City in the spring, now has a new head. IAB (the Interactive Advertising Bureau) will lead the series of presentations designed to connect online video content creators and advertisers.

The NewFronts started in 2008 as a single event headed by advertising agency Digitas. In 2012, that event grew into a two-week series of events, with presentations led by founding partners Hulu, Google, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others.

While the newfronts were seen as a success and a sign of the growth of the online video industry, there was some grumbling about the appropriateness of them being led by an agency. Other agencies felt that they didn't have a place. Those feelings were given voice by Rob Norman, chief digital officer of advertising and marketing firm GroupM, in an Adweek interview earlier this month.

"I think it should be an industry owned and controlled [event], not a for-profit thing, in order to get the full engagement," Norman said. "And I think that's important from the client point of view and the agency point of view, that I think it needs reorganizing."

Acting quickly, the NewFront founding partners approached IAB about taking the reigns.

"This was meant to be modeled on a classic television upfront marketplace, so it made sense to get a more neutral publisher-centric organization in the center to help manage it," says Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of IAB.

In its new role, IAB will help with scheduling, conduct PR, update the event website, and host a cocktail party during the week. Last year, the Daily, the Onion, and Funny or Die used the IAB office for a group newfront. This time around, Rothenberg wants all publishers to be responsible for their own presentations.

While organizers previously said that the 2013 newfronts would take place over a one-week period instead of two (since two weeks was too long for many out-of-town buyers), Rothenberg says that it may again stretch past one week, depending on what kind of interest he sees.

"Look, if demand supports it, we're willing to expand it," Rothenberg adds.

IAB will invest proceeds from the newfronts into something that will grow the marketplace, Rothenberg says, such as digital video advertising research. He also plans to create a benchmarking study on the digital video volume and pricing that took place during the events.

The second annual Digital Content NewFronts are scheduled to run from April 29 to May 3, 2013.

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