Digital content platforms and streamers pitch new ad formats in short and long-form video on NewFronts day two

On day two of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s four-day NewFronts, digital content platforms and streamers pitched new ad formats (with a focus on artificial intelligence and shoppable content) in short-form social video and longer-form TV shows and movies.

The key details:

  • Snap is testing new ads with its new ChatGPT-powered chatbot
  • Samsung’s adding multi-screen shoppable content
  • Privacy discussions so far have been scant
  • Snap, Roku and Peacock tout their massive audience reach to advertisers
  • Peacock focuses its pitch on ad-supported movies and four new ad formats
  • Roku is bringing ads to “Roku City”

Yahoo did not have a formal presentation, but instead hosted a concert featuring Chance the Rapper on Tuesday evening.

From ChatGPT to CTV, AI-powered ads are coming to Snap, Roku and Samsung

Day two of the NewFronts featured plenty of AI-related announcements. Using “My AI” — Snapchat’s recently announced chatbot powered by ChatGPT — Snap has been testing ways to use AI to surface mobile video and testing new sponsored links within AI-powered conversations.

“Our goal is simple and that is to connect with partners that can quickly solve a problem or just make their day a little bit easier,” said Snap Americas President Rob Wilk. “After the initial response, maybe there’s a link from a local restaurant helping me to solve my problem with just a tap. Or if I was talking with My AI about taking a fun weekend trip, I might receive a sponsored link from an airline or a hotel with a special deal.”

Other companies also announced new AI tools for advertisers. For example, Roku debuted a new “Contextual AI” tool that scans the Roku Channel content library to let advertisers automatically run messages next to relevant parts of shows and movies. Meanwhile, Samsung announced AI-powered shoppable content through a new partnership with KERV that lets viewers connect with advertisers on their mobile devices without pausing connected TV content.

Data’s everywhere, but privacy chatter’s nearly nowhere

Despite growing concerns — and increased regulation — about ad-tech’s data privacy issues, the topic hasn’t come up much so far this week in companies’ presentations. One company that did briefly mention it was Snap, with Wilk mentioning that the company will run safety checks across all sponsored links to make sure there aren’t any privacy violations.

Despite the assurances, the comments come amid recent reports of parents and internet experts expressing concerns about how Snap’s new chatbot might interact with younger users when it comes to data privacy, mature content topics and other safety concerns.

“We’re taking our time to build the right, useful and again privacy-first experience for our users,” Wilk said during his on-stage remarks.

Shooting for scale

When it comes to scale, Snap said its advertisers can now reach 750 million users on Snapchat every month and said 50% of U.S. users are 25 and older. The company also said that 350 million users watch “spotlight content” each month with fourth-quarter watch time — double what it was a year earlier. Snap’s also scaling its Spotlight product for advertisers globally. And it touted the scale of its augmented reality tools, mentioning that users engaged with AR lenses almost 2 billion times during the 2023 Super Bowl.

The company also highlighted its progress with creators and said users watch content from “Snap Stars” more than 35 billion times a month. It also announced a new “Snap Star Collab Studio” in partnership with influencer agencies Whalar, Influential, Beeline By Brat and Studio71 that will help advertisers work with Snap Stars. (TikTok introduced a similar offering last fall with its Creator Marketplace.)

Peacock also touted its ad-supported scale, saying its One Platform tech stack reaches 227 million adults monthly. 

At Roku, the company is adding new spots for advertisers, including a new ad placement on its “Roku City” screensaver, which VP of Ad Revenue and Marketing Alison Levin said reaches 40 million homes every month. This summer, McDonald’s will become the first advertiser to appear on the ad spot, but Levin said the company’s also reserving “a few category-specific” spots for other advertisers. (Roku’s also adding ways for advertisers to get in front of viewers looking for content through new garden and sports experiences on the platform’s home screen.)

Rather than pitting itself against other streaming platforms, Roku President Charlie Collier said, “The future of TV advertising will be platform-firm.”

“Roku is not fighting for turf in the streaming wars,” Collier said. “Roku is the turf. … The streaming wars are playing out on our platform.”

Ads for long-form video

Peacock’s pitch to advertisers focused on ad-supported, long-form content like movies, in contrast to YouTube’s presentation on the first day of the NewFronts in which the company focused on short-form video. Kelly Campbell, president of Peacock and direct to consumer, said Peacock had doubled its paid subscribers year over year — to 22 million. Peacock’s growth could also be tied back to the investment being put into the streaming platform. In recent Q1 2023 earnings for NBCU parent company Comcast, Peacock had $704 million in losses, up from $456 million of losses in Q1 2022.

Two out of three Peacock subscribers have watched at least one Universal pay-one window film, Campbell said. (Since 2022, all Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s theatrical releases are available exclusively on Peacock for the first and last four months of a traditional 18-month pay-one period.) Peacock sells extended pre-roll ads that appear before a movie, rather than commercial interruptions. 

Peacock also highlighted four new ad formats. Spotlight+ is a full brand takeover of a show. Marquee ads can integrate a brand into live, streaming content, such as a sports scoreboard. Power Break is Peacock’s version of a pause ad, with creative that can change based on household data. And ShopTV allows a viewer to shop products directly from streaming video content.

Meanwhile, WGA members are in the middle of a strike and picketed outside of the Fifth Avenue venue where Peacock’s NewFronts presentation was taking place. Actress Edie Falco was scheduled to appear during Peacock’s upfront to discuss her new series, but backed out so as not to cross the picket line, according to a tweet.

Where’s Vice?

Vice Media Group hasn’t participated in NewFronts since 2021. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the company is preparing for bankruptcy, following news that it has shut down its Vice World News division. It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, Vice hosted a splashy party for advertisers at the massive Jing Fong banquet hall in New York City, with white tablecloths, tables laden with dim sum and a concert featuring singers like Teyana Taylor, Danny Brown and Coi Leray.

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