Amazon drops out of NewFronts, joining Twitter, Digitas and Walmart’s Vudu

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Amazon dropped out of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Content NewFronts, which on Tuesday were bumped to the week of June 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Adweek reported. The e-commerce giant was set to make its debut as a presenter, and said it plans to attend the NewFronts in the future.
  • Amazon joins others in pulling out of the annual pitch to advertisers and media buyers. Twitter withdrew last week, prior to the event’s rescheduling; Walmart’s streaming video on demand service Vudu dropped out three weeks ago after the NewFronts announced it would go virtual; and the agency Digitas told Adweek via a spokesperson that it is focusing on employees and clients for the time being.
  • Other publishers on the agenda such as YouTube, Condé Nast, Hulu, Roku and The New York Times still plan to put on presentations, but are working through what those will look like in an all-digital environment and with the date change, Adweek said.

Dive Insight:

The NewFronts, originally scheduled from April 27 to May 6, are the latest industry events upended by the coronavirus, joining the upfronts in feeling a pinch from cancellations and the awkwardness of pivoting an experience focused on glitzy presentations and in-person deal-making to a digital format.

The loss of publishers like Amazon, Walmart and Twitter deals a blow to the IAB, which had initially expanded its NewFronts lineup for 2020 and planned to position this year as one of reinvention with a “new NewFronts,” per Adweek. For example, the IAB for the first time added an additional two days of programming centered on streaming, but has now lost Walmart’s Vudu and Amazon from that block. Vudu made its NewFronts debut last year. Amazon’s withdrawal on Wednesday comes as the e-commerce giant experiences growing pressures to its e-commerce and grocery business, which have seen a surge in deliveries as quarantined consumers order essential goods.

While a number of heavy hitters like YouTube and Hulu remain onboard for the NewFronts, the show’s diminished agenda and the difficulties of conducting business as usual in a remote environment emphasize how digital media is weathering a serious shakeup under the pandemic. The timing is particularly tough for publishers, as streaming viewership spikes among consumers sheltered in place and marketers scramble to adjust their media strategies.

The NewFronts have previously weathered disruptions, but the possibility of further dropouts or even a full cancellation this year would send a doomy signal to the digital market and the IAB, which is an influential entity in the space. The presentations debuted in 2012 to complement the established upfronts season for TV networks, acting in essentially the same fashion but focusing on digital. As digital has bled into other channels and risen to dominate marketing, the NewFronts have shrunk from a two-week affair to one, even as the slate has diversified to include players outside the typical media sphere like Walmart.

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