The NewFront is a half conference, half dog and pony show that brings together “content creators, distributors, talent and brands to harness digital creative media opportunities in a post-advertising marketplace.” Hosted by integrated advertising agency, Digitas and its branded content arm, The Third Act, the event (explained in non-marketing speak) provides an opportunity for the agency to show off its new media expertise, allows for industry experts to educate the decision-makers at major brands about the importance and/or efficacy of digital advertising, and gives content creators a platform from which to pitch programs and court potential advertisers.

On April 26, Digitas will host its Fifth Annual NewFront in New York city. This year, it will have some company.

Suzanne Vranica at the Wall Street Journal reports major players in the digital media and online video industries, including YouTube, Yahoo, Hulu, Microsoft, and AOL are all signed up to participate in a two-week long digital upfront dubbed the “Digital Content NewFronts.”

The NewFronts (with an “s”) will be organized by Digitas and are presumably intended to mimic the style and format of the traditional Upfronts of the television industry. Beginning in March, but culminating with the major broadcast networks during the second or third week in May, the Upfronts is a period in time at which television channels present their viewership analytics and upcoming programming slates by way of top executives and celebrities to rooms full of advertisers. The advertisers are intended to be impressed by the network’s ratings, wooed by their talent, and then commit to major sponsorship and commercial deals for the fall television season.

In 2011, the advertising industry spent somewhere in the ballpark of $9.3 billion on primetime programming on the five major networks alone (CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, and CW) and another estimated $9.2 billion on cable networks.

That’s a lot of cash. It also shows you how much bigger the television industry still is compared to online video and digital media. If YouTube, for instance, can secure just 0.55% of that total dollar amount after it makes its digital upfront presentation in March, the world’s largest video sharing site will have paid for one of the world’s largest investments in online original programming.

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