I told you 2012 was going to be a big year for the online video industry. And if you need more evidence than I supplied in my self-aware, semi-grandiose predictions piece, here it is: AOL, Hulu, Google/YouTube, Microsoft Advertising, and Yahoo! are joining forces to create the first-large scale, digital content, two-week-long television-style upfront.

It’s called the Digital Content NewFronts, and it’s orchestrated by Digitas and the advertising agency’s branded content division Third Act, whose own NewFront has been an annual dog-and-pony informationfest for four years and running, featuring celebrity content creators pitching themselves and digital properties to Digitas clients.

Of course, Tubefilter readers already knew all this. We wrote about the event last week. But what the public didn’t know until recently was the schedule. Here it is below. Be sure to mark your calendars accordingly.

  • April 19th – Hulu
  • April 24th – Microsoft Advertising’s Digital Showcase
  • April 24th – AOL
  • April 25th – Yahoo!
  • April 26th – Digitas NewFront
  • May 2nd – Google/YouTube

More details and logistics are up on the official website, where additional events and programs are expected to be announced leading up to mid-April as they’re approved by the Digital Content NewFront Steering Committee.

And what’s the Digital Content NewFront Steering Committee? It’s the small body comprised of one member of each founding partner of the Digital Content NewFronts that “will determine scheduling of additional DCNF events and programming,” as well as “set the strategic evolution” of the event in years to come. The individuals on said committee include:

  • AOL: Janet Balis—SVP, Head of Sales Strategy, Marketing and Partnerships, AOL
  • Digitas: Mark Beeching—Chief Global Creative and Strategy Director, Digitas (+ Founder of Digitas NewFront and The Third Act)
  • Google/YouTube: Suzie Reider—Global Head of Industry Development, Google/YouTube
  • Hulu: Bryan Thoensen— Director of Integrated Marketing, Hulu
  • IAB: Seneca Mudd — Director, Digital Video Committee, IAB
  • Microsoft Advertising: Rick Song—General Manager, Eastern US, Microsoft Advertising
  • Yahoo!: Mickie Rosen—Senior Vice President, Yahoo! Media Network

The above names and the companies and organizations they represent hope the fourteen-day calendar of invitation-only events will attract an audience of high-profile brands and advertisers in command of large advertising accounts. They also hope a television-style upfront for the new media industry will gain enough confidence of those brands and advertisers to make them feel comfortable with (and excited about) spending a larger portion of their budgets on or against digital programming.

If anyone’s confident about the event, it’s CEO of Digitas North American, Colin Kisella. I asked him over e-mail why he thought 2012 was the year for online video and why the Digital Content NewFronts are happening now.

Tubefilter: Why 2012? Why haven’t these industry leaders gotten together in previous years for a television-style upfront?

Colin Kisella: According to eMarketer, online ad spend in the United States is expected to grow by 23.3% to $39.5 billion in 2012. Money is flowing aggressively into the Digital space. This is not new information, but one worth reinforcing. Second, and perhaps more important, U.S. Online VIDEO AD spending grew by 52.1% in 2011. eMarketer also estimates that by 2015, video ad spending will reach $7.1 billion, up from $2.16 billion in 2011.

And for good reason.

Consumers on average spend 32 hours per month online (equivalent to almost one full work week per month), according to a Comscore study of monthly average hours spent online per U.S. visitor in 2010. Of this time spent, a quarter is spent in social media. This information is not surprising, however it does point to an aggressive trend. With more time spent online, aggressive trajectory of online video ad spend growth and time spent, punctuated by the prolific adoption of smart phones and other mobile devices, it is clear that consumers across all age groups are increasingly attracted to and value online digital content.The time to leverage this trend on an industry level platform is NOW. The Digital Content NewFronts answer this call for brands, agencies and their target consumers.

Stay tuned to Tubefilter for more news about the DCNF and find out more details about the event at DigitalContentNewFronts.com.