Upfront Week 2024, Blending Nostalgia with Cutting-Edge Innovations 
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Upfront Week 2024, Blending Nostalgia with Cutting-Edge Innovations 

Members of our video team attended this year’s Upfront week where it had a nostalgic feel reminiscent of the “old days.” In recent years, technology and data have taken center stage, with each group showcasing their unique advancements. As these integrations have become increasingly standard (with some groups holding separate showcases for deeper discussion), content and talent have once again emerged as shining stars. 

Key themes this year included enhanced audience targeting, transparency, advanced measurement, innovation in content and technology, and investment in premium and diverse content. The integration of sports and entertainment to engage audiences across multiple platforms remained a significant focus throughout the event. While these themes were similar to previous years, there was notably less emphasis on currency. Could this shift be due to the idea of alternative currencies normalizing or possibly the industry recognizing the long game effort needed? 

Our most notable takeaways:  

  • Data driven strategy: Each group brought a unique perspective and approach to strategic audience-based video investments. Disney briefly mentioned their new contextual ad tool, Magic Words, which leverages the moods and emotions evoked by the content. NBCU highlighted the success of One Platform, demonstrating its impact on client organizations like AMGEN through improved qualified impressions and search impact. WBD announced the launch of their first-party data platform Olli that offers converged audience solutions.  
  • One platform: Speaking of converged audiences – there was a focus on simplifying the fragmented buying process across dynamic portfolios. WBD talked about their new data-driven video (DDV) offering, powered by Olli, which identifies one audience across all endpoints. Similarly, Amazon talked about one campaign, with one buy, and one holistic report, showcasing their ability to scale without sacrificing precision. This was a differentiator for Amazon as they demonstrated their reach beyond TV-like properties to include platforms like Twitch and Wondery.  
  • The programming: It’s what drives viewership, engagement, and connection. Consumers’ streaming portfolios now resemble that of a traditional cable subscription, and for good reason, exclusive content series that can’t be found anywhere else. These companies are competing for our attention, and the best way to capture it is through great content and talent given the fragmented world that we live in. Whether you are eagerly awaiting the return of The Summer I Turned Pretty, excited to hear Jason Kelce commentate during MNF, or planning your Thanksgiving around the premiere of Wicked, there is a wealth of premium content ahead. 
  • Sports. Sports. And more sports: Sports remain a focal point for all Upfront presentations. The following, fandom, and scale are just among a few of the driving forces behind its popularity at the Upfronts. Each company had exciting new announcements, from Netflix joining the roster of NFL coverage to Amazon’s new docu-series featuring tennis legend Roger Federer. This space is brimming with opportunities, with many new doors opening to technology and data-driven potential through programmatic activation.  
  • Crossover: While sports-related content will be in abundance this upcoming season, it comes at the expense of consumer experience. League coverage is fragmented across leading broadcasters and streaming platforms, making it nearly impossible to have a single-entry point for accessing your favorite sport. Companies like Disney, Fox, and WBD are teaming up to enhance the sports fan experience with new sports apps that aggregate coverage into a single space.  

It was clear the Upfronts underscored the industry’s evolution, balancing technological advancements with a renewed focus on content and audience engagement. As we move forward, the intersection of technology, data, and premium content will continue to shape the media landscape. The emphasis on simplifying consumer experiences, and the innovative approaches to audience targeting and measurement, point to an exciting future for both content creators and consumers alike. This year’s presentations not only highlighted the progress made but also set the stage for future developments, promising a dynamic and enriched viewing experience for audiences everywhere. If you have any questions about the Upfronts, please reach out to our video experts today! 

Contributors: Gina Whelehan, Michelle Roe 

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