NewFronts Briefing: TikTok and Meta pitch short-form video offerings and AI tools on the final day

On the last day of the IAB’s four-day NewFronts, social platforms like Meta and TikTok pitched their short-form video offerings to advertisers – despite the latter social media platform dealing with a tricky legal situation in the U.S.

TikTok addressed the ban – and its plans to fight it – in a private event held Wednesday night. More on that below. 

The key details:

  • TikTok announced updates to its Pulse program (including signing on new partners to Pulse Premiere) and new measurement tools
  • Meta was razor-focused on Reels and generative AI-powered products
  • Vevo spotlighted music videos from diverse artists
  • Spotify highlighted its growing music and podcast video inventory

TikTok addresses ban, adds to Pulse suite

For ad buyers wary of whether TikTok’s NewFronts pitch will ultimately matter if the ByteDance-owned platform is on the verge of being banned in the U.S., TikTok executives addressed the elephant in the room during the platform NewFronts presentation.

In a private gathering for independent agencies on Wednesday, TikTok executives said they view the Senate’s ruling as a ban and plan on fighting it, according to an agency executive who was in attendance. In the meantime, TikTok executives said the company would continue to develop and operate the business with the expectation that it will defeat the ban/divestment push, per the agency executive.

Asked to comment on the presentation, a TikTok spokesperson provided the statement below: 

“This unconstitutional law is a TikTok ban, and we will challenge it in court. We believe the facts and the law are clearly on our side, and we will ultimately prevail. The fact is, we have invested billions of dollars to keep U.S. data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation. This ban would devastate seven million businesses and silence 170 million Americans. As we continue to challenge this unconstitutional ban, we will continue investing and innovating to ensure TikTok remains a space where Americans of all walks of life can safely come to share their experiences, find joy, and be inspired.”

Given that TikTok expects to continue selling ads in the U.S. for the foreseeable future, here’s what TikTok pitched advertisers and agencies on during its NewFronts presentation.

This month, Paramount Global and the NHL are joining TikTok’s Pulse Premiere program, which lets advertisers buy ads placed directly after videos from TikTok’s publisher and media partners. Speaking of Paramount, TikTok announced that IP and franchises from the media company – as well as from NBCU – is now available for advertisers to buy ads against. Previously, advertisers could only buy ads around categories such as NBCU’s news or sports content, but now they can buy specifically around “Saturday Night Live” or “Today Show” videos, for example.

TikTok is also layering generative AI technology into Pulse Lineups (the product that lets advertisers buy ads alongside the top 4% of content in a specific category, such as fashion or travel) to help suggest additional relevant categories and topics to marketers. The tool, called Pulse Custom Lineups, will be available to advertisers later this quarter.

Advertisers can also now buy ads next to content from NBCU and Vogue around tentpole moments like the Olympics this summer and the Met Gala next week, respectively. 

Meanwhile, TikTok announced new measurement tools for advertisers, such as access to post-campaign reporting to see the incremental reach of their TikTok campaigns compared to the linear TV portion of their campaigns, thanks to a new partnership with iSpot.tv. And later this year, advertisers will get access to Nielsen One Ads – Nielsen’s updated measurement system – to measure their campaigns across several platforms including mobile, computer, linear TV and connected TV. — Tim Peterson contributed to this report.

How Meta is adding AI tools to Reels and ads

Surprise, surprise: AI and Reels were the pillars of Meta’s NewFronts presentation on Thursday.

“You’re going to hear those two letters a lot over the next hour,” Meta vp of global business group Alvin Bowles said on stage, referring to AI (as if any clarification were needed).

On the AI front, the Facebook and Instagram parent is testing an AI tool that predicts which organic branded posts featuring creators would perform better when run as a partnership ad, i.e. a sponsored post from the creator’s account with a “Paid partnership” label attached.

That’s not the only way Meta is incorporating AI into brands’ dealings with influencers on its platforms. The company is applying machine learning to the creator recommendations it serves up to brands in Instagram’s Creator Marketplace.

Additionally, Meta is extending its AI-powered Image Expansion tool to Reels. The tool will allow advertisers to have existing videos be automatically resized to fit the Reels format so that advertisers and agencies can “spend less time and resources manually reformatting creative assets,” Bowles said.

As much as Meta – and seemingly all ad sellers – may want to append AI to every facet of its advertising pitch today, it did have some non-AI elements to its NewFronts pitch. Well, two.

First, reminder ads for Reels that brands can use to highlight time-sensitive promotions, with links attached to specific products or sales. And second, the company is updating its multi-destination product ads – a.k.a. product catalog carousels overlaid atop ads – to run on videos.

The commerce format is available for Facebook Reels and being tested for Instagram Reels. “This update allows you to overlay [multi-destination product ads] into Reels to make product catalog images even more compelling,” Bowles said. – Tim Peterson

Vevo highlights recent deals to expand reach

Music video network Vevo focused its presentation on its diverse collection of music genres and artists. With music categories like Afrobeats and Regional Mexican, the company claims that over 70% of its most watched artists come from underrepresented communities – and the top 10 of its most viewed videos last year were from diverse artists.

The company announced a range of programming that advertisers can sponsor or buy ad placements against, including franchises around specific artists. Vevo also highlighted partnerships signed this year with companies like KERV, Sling and Telly to expand its reach and ad capabilities. Vevo is adding six channels – which stream music videos in categories ranging from Country to Latino – on Sling’s free ad-supported streaming service Freestream, for example.

Vevo closed out its event on Thursday evening with a live performance by country artist Kane Brown.

Spotify wants to get in the video game

Although not officially part of the NewFronts event, Spotify hosted its own presentation for advertisers on Wednesday evening. Called Spotify Sparks, the event was the company’s first to take place around the NewFronts, with the goal of pitching to marketers the growing video inventory on its platform.

Time spent with video content is up 48% year over year, according to the company, due in large part to the rise of video podcasts. Spotify is offering advertisers new video ad formats like Canvas, which are looping ad video clips.

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