I get it, but I don’t.  It’s been such a long time where new media/digital media/digital content has been trying to say how different they are from a traditional media opportunity perspective – with some degree of success or failure, depending on how you look at it. Now,  the digital players might be confusing things even more by trying to emulate the traditional media model of television upfronts. I get why the collective of outlets like Hulu, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo! and YouTube would think Digital Content NewFronts is a perfect solution for selling a lion-share of inventory in a fashion people are used to, but it frames digital media in a way that it really isn’t. It seems that no matter how much work is put into differentiating digital from traditional media – by emulating the media-selling platform of a different medium, the industry might err in showing the content in the wrong light.

Television UpFronts have been happening in May for quite some time – where networks unveil their coming seasons and brands and buyers get “pizzaz-zed” at the start the negotiation for a hefty bit of the available inventory. It is quite the feeding frenzy with much of the ad space getting booked in lump sums.  The deals are definitely based on demos and a clearly understood media platform.

The NewFronts will happen for the first time its year and is quite proud that they are taking a cue from the television world. on the site, it says that “Attendees are invited to roll up their sleeves and participate. Form relationships. Eye and act on the possibilities. Make sponsorship agreements.” Which is all fine and dandy, but there is a much higher complexity in the media planning for digital content.  With the data and tracking that is available, it isn’t just about the people you can reach – its about how they interact and what they do after that interaction.

Again, I understand why the powers would want to emulate something that is already known, but that leads people to think that they are effectively the same – which they are not.  Yes.  There are some video networks that are now getting stronger viewership than some small cable outlets, but the scale for the digital content is smaller in most parts, but more dynamic in others.

When a sword can be slammed into the ground that this digital is something different and should be taken seriously, the emulation of an existing media model seems to soften the blow.  Will there be some success and great press releases to come out of this? I’m sure there will be — we have been executing some of those larger UpFront types of deals with major publishers on behalf of studios  for a couple of years.  But, I don’t think a big song and dance will do the trick.

It always seemed odd to have a theatre full of media professionals sitting in a crowd in a huge theatre with TV shows projected on the big screen that they would ordinarily watch with a few people – at most – on a small screen.  And, from this, they would determine what is going to be a winner and what is going to be a bust.  The same issue could be the case here but with an even larger disparity between the presentation experience and the real-life experience of watching these videos.

They talk about moving from beneath the fluorescent lights into something bigger and brighter.  I just hope they find a way to shed the right light on the content and not get mired in a picture that is not their own.