As with TV, it's awfully hard to predict which particular programs and initiatives unveiled at last week's Digital Content NewFronts ("DCNF") will succeed and which will flop. But one thing that I'm fairly certain of is that the aggregate effort by digital outlets to create high-quality originals portends significant audience fragmentation ahead. To me, the historical parallel is as follows: what cable TV has done to broadcast TV in re-distributing audiences, online is about to do to cable TV and to broadcast.
It seems like barely a week goes by these days without a new online-only original video series or new distribution agreement being announced. But even as content creators' enthusiasm for the new medium grows, there's one constant reality: if major advertising dollars don't flow into online video, these projects will not survive. Content creators, distributors and agencies need to make a coordinated, concerted effort to educate advertisers about these new opportunities in order to help drive spending.
That's why the recently announced "Digital Content NewFronts" (DCNF) are a step in the right direction. Recognizing that a rising tide lifts all boats, five of the top ten online video destinations have banded together with ad agency Digitas to host two weeks of targeted events. But as Mark Beeching, Chief Global Creative and Strategy Director for Digitas explains in the following interview, the DCNF isn't as much an event as it is part of an ongoing, inclusive dialogue between brands and content creators/distributors looking to tap into completely new customer engagement opportunities.