IAB NewFronts 2024: A Glimpse into the Evolving Digital Landscape

IAB NewFronts 2024: A Glimpse into the Evolving Digital  Landscape 1

The 2024 IAB NewFronts wasn’t just about the latest video advertising trends and innovations; it was a star-studded gathering of the industry’s biggest names. Music fans rubbed shoulders with Meghan Trainor and Kane Brown, while television enthusiasts saw A-list actors on stage like Jessica Alba, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Bryan Cranston. Industry titans like Anna Wintour and elite athletes Tobin Heath and Angela Ruggerio shared the stage with the hottest up-and-coming platforms, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas about the future of video advertising.

The overarching message from IAB NewFronts was clear: collaboration is key. Partnerships between platforms, content creators, data providers, and measurement firms will be crucial for navigating the complexities of the evolving digital video landscape. However, a recurring theme emphasized the importance of the human touch alongside AI advancements. While AI offers powerful tools for content creation, audience targeting, and measurement, human creativity, and emotional intelligence remain paramount for crafting effective and engaging advertising. Further solidifying this theme, human connection and authenticity were consistently highlighted as the foundation for successful media engagement, with compelling content and relevant audiences at the forefront. In addition, diverse partners across various backgrounds issued a strong call for allyship, emphasizing the need for inclusive storytelling and representation to resonate with a multicultural audience. And finally, there was a strong sense that digital video advertising has broken the constraints of traditional screens and plays a growing role in out-of-home locations. This collaborative spirit, where human expertise guides AI innovation and empowers diverse voices, will drive a thriving digital video advertising future.

Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest takeaways from the four-day event:

Day 1: Collaboration, Redefining News, and Embracing Change

  • Partnerships Drive Innovation: A recurring theme was the need for collaboration in the increasingly fragmented video marketplace. Google showcased its evolving approach, acknowledging the importance of industry collaboration and fostering new partnerships to deliver client success. Vizio, which controls hardware, software, and data, emphasized how this integration optimizes the user experience and paves the way for ad and discovery innovation on its platform.
  • Rethinking News Consumption: The “IAB Spotlight On: News at NewFronts” panels addressed the crucial role of journalism in preserving a healthy democracy. They challenged media buyers to move beyond outdated strategies like fixed blocklists and explore the diverse content opportunities within trustworthy news—everything from recipes to lifestyle and entertainment segments.

Day 2: First-Party Data, CTV Growth, and Content as King

  • Harnessing First-Party Data: T-Mobile showcased its mobility data, including app usage, frequency, and time spent, combined with media placements across various touchpoints – home (wireless and TV), mobile, and in-store (digital out-of-home). Samsung echoed this, highlighting its ability to connect devices, software, hardware, content, and proprietary first-party data to create a holistic user experience.
  • CTV Takes Center Stage: The continued rise of CTV was evident. Samsung TV Plus emerged as a major contender in the streaming realm, offering a diverse content library in sports, kids, gaming, music, news, and more. Roku emphasized the power of the “lead in” in CTV, arguing that their platform-enabled content drives greater attention to the CTV content they host. They do this by leveraging data and technology to bridge the gap between first impressions and transactions while addressing crucial industry challenges like audience fragmentation and efficient ad delivery. Roku also introduced its partnership with The Trade Desk, blurring lines between the open web and CTV ecosystems.

Day 3: Embracing Change and Redefining Success

  • Digital Video Ascendant: The most significant takeaway might be the projected shift in dominance, with digital video surpassing linear TV for the first time in 2024 (52% vs. 48%). This reinforces the need to shift mindsets and explore new video advertising strategies.
  • The Power of Creators and Diverse Storytelling: Creators have become a robust channel for reaching audiences. The importance of authenticity and diverse narratives resonated throughout the event, with presentations highlighting the need to cater to multicultural audiences and embrace inclusive storytelling approaches like those targeting Hispanic and LGBTQAI+ communities.
  • Human Connection at the Forefront: Several discussions emphasized that human connections should guide media decision-making, focusing on compelling content and relevant audiences. Ad innovation also took center stage, aiming to address user experience concerns and create engaging ad experiences. Snap, for example, presented how they are using augmented reality (AR) and focusing on real-life connections to create a positive environment for brands. They introduced innovative ad formats with integrated AR experiences, tools for faster AR asset creation, and a new creator accelerator program focused on underrepresented communities. Additionally, Snap announced partnerships to bring AR experiences and creator content to the Paris Olympics and launched the Snap Sports Network, a channel featuring unconventional sports and user-generated content.

Day 4: Sports, AI, and Emerging Platforms

  • Empowering Women’s Sports: The first-ever Women’s Sports-Focused NewFronts highlighted the significant growth of women’s sports despite a fragmented broadcast landscape. Sports Innovation Lab called for greater industry support and showcased its marketplace platform with inventory, team and athlete partnerships, and audience data solutions.
  • Enhancing Creativity with AI: Meta emphasized the power of AI in fueling creative development, media buying tools, and creator discovery on platforms like Reels. New ad formats advancing direct response were also introduced.
  • Video Entertainment at the Core: TikTok presented its case as a vital video entertainment platform, not just social media, highlighting its role in product discovery. Additionally, they presented tools like the TikTok channel forecaster and a new partnership with iSpot.tv for measuring incremental reach to linear TV.

Looking Ahead: A Collaborative Future Powered by Innovation

As you probably have noticed by now, Connected TV expansion and opportunities, retail media networks, AI innovation, and sports partnerships were present in almost every presentation during NewFronts. Despite these clear “winners”, some challenges in making sense of a very complex ecosystem for buying and measurement were also raised, like inventory fragmentation, frequency management, true cross-media measurement, evolving privacy regulations, and targeting limitations.

The 2024 IAB NewFronts offered a clear vision—the digital video advertising ecosystem thrives on collaboration. We heard from companies that are in the business of redefining the future of digital video. Some through content, others through data. Some through new uses of technology, ad innovation, and still others through new business models. Many through partnerships. In the spirit of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” it becomes clear that if the industry comes together to improve some practices, every participant in the ecosystem will be in an improved position.

With all this dynamism, we are at an incredibly important point in our industry’s evolution. We are moving from old models to new models in everything we do. There’s great growth ahead. As David Cohen, IAB CEO, said in his opening remarks, we will only get there if we heed John D Rockefeller’s words of wisdom: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”


Cintia Gabilan
Vice President, Media Center
at IAB