What To Watch For During This Year’s NewFronts

Clifton Dawson, Principal Analyst Insight Articles, Media & Entertainment, Virtual Reality

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The conversation between digital media properties, brands and media buyers about the value of virtual reality as new advertising format will continue to heat up, with the global virtual reality industry is predicted to grow to $7.1 billion in 2017. Greenlight Insights also predicts that by 2017, advertising spending on 360-degree video and branded content will begin to accelerate.

At no other conference will there be as much talk about advertising and virtual reality as there will at the Digital Content NewFronts May 1-12, 2017 in New York City. Last year, digital publishers made sure that virtual reality made its way into their sales pitches during Digital Content NewFronts, the annual marketplace for digital media properties, brands and media buyers. Major media brands such as National Geographic, CNN, and The Economist all made announcements about VR originals or extensions of their media properties.

According to Greenlight Insights' semi-annual State of the Industry surveyB2C marketers realize the future is bright for branded content, native ads, and interstitial 360-degree video ads. Nearly 80% of the marketers in study report the intend to increase their spending on VR-related marketing campaigns, even as determining the ROI for virtual reality marketing remains a top challenge in 2017.

Against this backdrop, Greenlight Insights believes there are several opportunities for ad-supported VR content:

  • Measurement and attribution. “Measurement and attribution, which are interrelated, should be integral to conversations starting now. As a relatively new medium, publishers have the opportunity to start out by measuring true incrementality of VR and the causal relationship between a business’ engagement metrics or revenues, and the campaigns that directly contribute to outcomes.”
  • Cross-platform, integrated campaigns. “Marketers are evaluating individual platforms and channels, instead of an integrated approach across 360-video and full immersion media, as well as in-home and out-of-home channels.”
  • Production pipeline and advertising supply chain. “The production pipeline for 360 video and fully immersive experiences are still a black-box for marketers. We need a transparent supply chain that people can understand. I still feel like there’s so much room for education. The more marketers understand what’s happening with their dollars, the more effective they’ll be in spending them.”

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The health of advertising spending on VR-related campaigns depends on the announcements shared at by leading media brands at Digital Content NewFronts. Digital publishers must follow up on last year’s major commitments to produce content with evidence of impact. Marketers and industry observers will be looking for indications of how these campaigns have performed and how the initial experiments will be extended in 2017 and beyond.