Yahoo is changing the format of its IAB Digital Content NewFronts this year.
This spring, Yahoo plans to pivot away from a major pitch to advertisers at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Digital Content Newfronts in favor of a tour to several major markets across the U.S.
Today, the company said it’s skipping the annual two-week showcase in May, when digital publishers and platforms attempt to convince the biggest brands to invest in their online properties. It’s the second year in a row that Yahoo has skipped the flashy events that often come with NewFronts hosted by YouTube and AOL. For its 2016 NewFront, Yahoo held a closed-door event for between 300 and 350 advertisers—a count that was about half of the one it held in 2015.
In its place this year on May 1 will be Twitter, which today announced plans to host its own NewFronts event for the first time in New York.
According to Yahoo Chief Revenue Officer Lisa Utzschneider, executives will travel to cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more to meet with agency and brand partners.
She said the company decided to make the move after agencies said they preferred last year’s more personalized and low-key event at Yahoo’s offices in New York and requested the company visit them.
“It was eye-opening having it in the Yahoo space where we really focused on the quality of the content and less about the flash and the sizzle,” Utzschneider told Adweek in an interview. “And I had many people come up to me and say ‘Yahoo, this was your best NewFront yet.’”
Ahead of last year’s NewFront, Yahoo announced plans to streamline its content verticals to focus on four—news, sports, finance and lifestyle—while focusing more heavily on short-form video and livestreaming. A year later, the plan seems to be paying off. Time spent watching video across Yahoo’s properties was up 85 percent, with video inventory growing by 29 percent and time spent viewing ads increasing by 42 percent. In January, the company reported its quarterly earnings, beating analyst estimates with revenue in the fourth quarter totaling $1.47 billion—up from $1.27 billion in fourth-quarter 2015.
For this year’s NewFronts season, Yahoo is expected to have a new owner, with its acquisition by Verizon expected to close in the second quarter. Asked how that might affect the company’s pitch to advertisers, Utzschneider declined to give specifics, explaining only that it will be “business as usual” as the companies finished the first quarter.
“We’re going to set very clear expectations this year with our partners that the content we’re going to share is our Yahoo story and our video strategy for this year,” she said.