Bob Garfield

NewFronts: Xbox LIVE pens key advertising partnership with ESPN

Microsoft and AOL NewFronts revealed new digital partnerships, upcoming digital video lineups, and plans for developing and distributing content for multiple audiences, devices, and screens.

The Microsoft NewFront

Microsoft showcased flagship investments in original content at the digital NewFronts, including recent innovations in cross-platforms and multi-screens, and a groundbreaking partnership between Xbox LIVE and ESPN -- creating a content distribution and advertising bonanza for scaling the Xbox's prolific content offerings and tapping into its roster of 40 million active members.

This new addition to the Xbox family joins rev-share advertising partners CBS Interactive, GameSpot, TMZ, "Today," Last.fm, and Manga Entertainment, enabling advertisers to purchase15- and 30-second targeted spots across Xbox LIVE, which has seen 142 percent growth over the last two years.

Microsoft also announced the rollout of DV Guide, a next-gen, multi-platform programming channel targeting tech-savvy consumers, and MSN Now, an imminent return to the portal model that mixes user engagement with an "edgy, modern" portal experience supported by editorial, video, and social media. MSN Now made its debut without advertising, and over the next 90 days it will begin rolling out new ad units.

"The old portal model is dead," according to Jahn Wollard, senior director of video sales for Microsoft Advertising. "We need a portal that is 'web aware' and will make content more discoverable. TV alone is no longer sufficient. Surround your consumers with sight, sound, and motion on all screens."

The AOL NewFront

AOL's Chief Revenue Officer Ned Brody hosted the company's digital NewFront in New York to a standing room of advertisers and brands, and the message was loud and clear: AOL delivers content that matters to advertisers, and it strives to create an empowering online publishing environment that brands can trust.

NewFront launches included AOL On, an advertiser-rich curated video hub for consumers that offers premium content across 14 channels such as food, business, entertainment, style, technology, travel, health, and others. AOL On consolidates the company's entire video portfolio and is customized for multi-screen consumption.

Additional rollouts included "Digital Justice," a new cyber crime show starring Terry Schappert; "Fetching," written by "Sex in the City" writer Amy Harris; "Little Women Big Cars;" "Nina Garcia;" "Tiger Beat Entertainment," co-executive produced by Jennifer Lopez; and social gaming platform ur + 1 that will make its debut in 2013 during the Hollywood awards season

"Maximum growth and the highest ideals are not incompatible," Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Group, said as she announced additional AOL rollouts such as the publication's new iPad magazine app that she likened to "moving from a one-night stand to a getaway weekend when you can really get to know someone," in reference to the detailed app experience that maximizes social media, user engagement, and The Huffington Post's streaming video network. Huffington also announced the launch of GPS for the Soul, a downloadable mobile app that tracks blood pressure, heart rate, and other health concerns and then adds in "self correctors" that lower stress, and Breakover, an inspirational site that helps users reinvent themselves after life setbacks, such as divorce, illness, or death of a loved one.

"Self expression is the new entertainment," Huffington said, closing out the evening.

 

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