NewFronts Debrief: Verizon Media

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Mindshare’s Kaitlyn Rich, Associate Director, Digital Investment, shares her insights on last night’s Verizon Media NewFront.

  1. The big talent onstage:
  • The New York Jets’ Sam Darnold came onstage to hype up the NFL live streaming integration into Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football app.
  • Julianne Moore introduced Verizon’s RYOT Studios upcoming documentary, 5B, about the HIV/AIDs epidemic and the country’s first AIDS ward in San Francisco in the early 80s.
  • Sandra Vergara, while not appearing live, was flaunted via an interactive quiz as the host of an HQ Trivia-style show launching called Pop Play.
  • And, while not technically a ‘talent’, Verizon also dedicated a portion of the show to ‘Hypezilla’ an AR Space Jam-esque monster hosting a shoppable mobile video series where viewers can try products virtually before buying.
  1. The announcements that caught your eye:
  • The biggest story being told by Verizon Media was its investment in 5G-powered content creation with a slew of new podcasts, live streaming, and shows across finance, sports, lifestyle, politics, and news, as well as investment in AR/VR content creation.
  • Their first-party data capabilities played a starring role in the presentation. Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan touted Verizon’s one billion touch points and audience connections often, as well as Yahoo! Mail’s reach to 25% of the U.S. population, with users who spend 50% more time in the platform than Gmail.
  • Similar to other NewFronts, the brand safety pitch came up multiple times, with Darnold making football puns (in the vein of advertisers not needing to worry about offensive content).
  1. Implications for marketers:
  • The audience insights Verizon’s touchpoints can gather and the numerous channels to reach consumers are definitely a strength here, but it remains to be seen how effectively they leverage these insights to inform their content choices. Some content pitches, like the announcement of 5B,were met with a standing ovation when the doctors and nurses appearing in the documentary came on stage. However other pitches, like Hypezilla, were met with a more lukewarm reception. It definitely seems like Verizon is eager to cash in on the success rivals like Amazon and Netflix saw in 2018 (movie bids like 5B seem like they’re trying to recreate Roma). However, it remains to be seen how the quality of their content compares to other more established streaming content providers.
  • One offering that’s less ambiguous is the strength of the Verizon Media ad platform’s first-party data. It will be interesting to see how this offering evolves over time as GDPR becomes more of a focus for the U.S. market. Right now, Verizon has a better opportunity with its direct-to-consumer touchpoints than other ad tech competitors at complying to potential changes in consent requirements of data usage from consumers. GDPR aside, Verizon’s first-party data also offers a unique data source with a view into audiences preference when it comes to coupons used, stocks followed, and sports interests across their e-mail, sports, finance, and O&O properties.
  1. Challenges for the publisher:
  • The closing remarks of the night from Gowrappan of how Verizon works with advertisers to connect everything together also summed up their biggest challenge. With so many product offerings across all its acquisitions, the company faces a unique challenge in combining all its parts into a strategic offering for advertisers. It needs to be something that truly leverages the breadth of channels, with compelling content and unique data value propositions.
  1. What was different about this NewFront from the types of deals we do every day for clients?
  • Historically, the company’s ad offerings have seemed somewhat siloed without line of sight into interesting synergies that can be leveraged across their property. This NewFront, while still a bit erratic and bumpy in its storytelling of the Verizon offering, was the most cohesive we’ve seen to date, so it will be interesting to see how the strategies they share with us are inclusive of all Verizon’s touch points and new announcements to sync up with our client goals.

In a week filled with lots of content, sales pitches, and very little sleep, Mindshare is bringing you a debrief on some of the biggest NewFront events with the implications for marketers, the challenges for publishers, and more. Check back every day for more debriefs.