IAB 2024 Newfronts Recap

An aggregated recap of three key trends and must-know announcements coming out this year’s NewFronts

Richard Yao
IPG Media Lab
5 min readMay 10, 2024


Source: IAB

Every year, ahead of the Upfronts, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) hosts its “NewFronts” focusing on digital advertising and giving the major players in the online ad ecosystem to pitch their latest offers to the Madison Avenue crowd. This year, the focus seems to be on the impact of generative AI, with some additional emphasis on emerging channels like connected TV and retail media networks.

AI Optimism Sweeps NewFronts

Perhaps unsurprisingly, AI-related announcements and talking points dominated the NewFronts this year. As Marty Swant writes for Digiday, the event brought forth “a week’s worth of AI news for advertisers.”

The duopoly of digital advertising continues to jostle each other in the AI arms race.

Meta dedicated its presentation to the role of AI in creating dynamic campaigns, suggesting using AI to predict organic creator content for paid partners, as well as using ML to suggest creators for brands and tools for resizing videos for Reels on Instagram. Not to be outdone, Google highlighted how its AI capabilities are enhancing ad targeting and optimization, allowing advertisers to generate audience segments and refine ad frequency.

Beyond the duopoly, companies like TikTok and Samsung say they are starting to use AI for content creation, ad targeting, and audience engagement, indicating a broad industry trend toward AI-driven solutions. Similarly, Samba TV is beta testing its new Samba AI platform that uses visual AI to identify people and products in shows to help with contextual targeting and measurement.

Meanwhile, smaller platforms like Snapchat are also embracing AI to revolutionize the user and advertiser experience. AdWeek reports that Snapchat introduced new augmented reality features powered by generative AI, enabling brands to create custom ads with realistic face effects directly through simple text or image prompts. This innovative use of AI in AR ads points to another way to leverage cutting-edge AI beyond automation and chatbots to create more engaging and personalized ad experiences.

Thanks to the apparent enthusiasm for Generative AI’s potential to turbocharge digital advertising, discussions on the ethical implications and other concerns of AI were notably muted at NewFronts, as Marty Swant noted in his recap for Digiday. Overall, the industry’s focus seems to be more on leveraging AI for short-term gains rather than addressing the potential risks and long-term considerations. That said, some platforms are starting to take AI content seriously. TikTok, for example, has announced that it will start automatically labeling AI-generated content on its platform. While AI offers unprecedented opportunities for targeted advertising and content customization, a more balanced approach will be needed to ensure the longevity of the digital ad ecosystem.

The Coming-of-Age for Connected TV Ads

Besides all the eager talks of AI, connected TV also got plenty of stage time during the NewFronts this year, with major players like Samsung, Roku, and Vizio leading the charge in transforming the traditional TV advertising experience.

Samsung, as Cythina Littleton writes for Variety, has significantly expanded its Samsung TV Plus platform, which is front-and-center in their presentation at the NewFronts. Samsung showcased the platform’s growth to encompass over 2,600 channels and partnerships with major sports leagues and content providers. This vast expansion not only underscores Samsung’s commitment to enhancing its content offerings but also highlights the platform’s extensive reach across 24 countries, making it a powerful tool for advertisers and content creators.

Similarly, Roku is also making strides in innovating advertising formats on its platform. As Jasmine Sheena recaps for Morning Brew, Roku is “far from over” of its efforts to entice brands into joining the “Roku City.” With the introduction of new ad products like video ads on its home screen, and special ad formats during major TV moments, Roku showcased its commitment to exploring non-traditional advertising that enhances user engagement without disrupting the viewing experience. These new products, coupled with strategic partnerships for targeted ad placements and measurable ad performance, position Roku as a key player in the connected TV market.

Of course, the various streaming services were not left out of the conversation around connected TV. Ahead of its upfront presentation on May 14, Amazon Ads has announced an expanded suite of interactive and shoppable ad formats for Prime Video with remote-enabled capabilities. Similarly, Netflix has also announced ahead of its Upfront presentation new partnerships with three measurement providers: Kantar, Cint, and NCSolutions.

Overall, this Upfronts season marked a coming-of-age for connected TV ads, as more CTV platforms started to offer more mature ad products. The diversity and innovation in ad formats, coupled with advanced analytics and targeting capabilities, set the stage for more innovative and immersive advertising practices that are likely to captivate audiences and reshape the advertising landscape.

Retail Media Networks: Everybody Wants a Piece

This year’s Newfronts presentation also spotlighted how hot retail media networks are, as a unique part of the ecosystem that bridges retail and digital advertising. Eager to get a piece of this growing segment of performance marketing, some noteworthy partnerships were forged and announced.

A prime example of this market dynamic is the collaboration between Best Buy and CNET, as Kathryn Lundstrom writes for AdWeek. By merging CNET’s editorial credibility with Best Buy’s retail prowess, this partnership allows advertisers to target consumers throughout the shopping journey — from initial product research on CNET to final purchases in Best Buy stores or online.

Similarly, NBCUniversal struck a deal with Instacart to offer CPG businesses the means to become performance marketers. This collaboration involves anonymously integrating data from Instacart’s over 7 million active monthly users, who utilize delivery services from approximately 1,500 retailers nationwide, with the 31 million subscribers of Peacock. As Jack Neff notes in his piece for Ag Age, this partnership is the latest example in a growing number of efforts to match CPG household sales data to streaming and linear audience data, including Peacock’s team-up with the Walmart Connect retail media network last year.

Speaking of Walmart, Vizio, a smart TV manufacturer that Walmart is trying to acquire for $2.3 billion, also touted its new ad formats that can promote a show along with quick-service restaurants and food delivery services. Vizio added pause ads to its free streaming service WatchFree+. Although Vizio is quite tight-lipped about its potential future under the ownership of one of the biggest retailers in the world, it seems safe to assume that a retail media network would be in the cards if the acquisition goes through. This strategic purchase by Walmart would likely enhance Vizio’s capabilities in delivering targeted advertising and content promotions directly through its connected TV interface.

As retail media networks grow, they are likely to become integral to advertising ecosystems, offering brands nuanced consumer insights and real-time data feedback. This shift not only promises more targeted and effective advertising, but also provides valuable consumer insights, offering a seamless bridge between online engagement and physical sales.

One last thing, the looming TikTok ban is very much hanging over some conversations around the future of digital video. Understandably, the Bytedance-owned company didn’t directly address this, and instead chose to focus on new contextual ad products, such as Pulse Premiere, which aligns ads with premium publisher content, and Tentpole Moments, which aligns ads with buzzy live events, during its NewFronts presentation. As Peter Adams writes for Marketing Dive, while the deadline for a decision is still months away, creators, publishers and advertisers are already mulling their future on the app that is mega-popular with teens.