For the second year, media agency Omnicom Media Group has inserted itself as a leader in the charge to move digital dollars to emerging platforms. This year, OMD, a subsidiary of the OMG global parent and the team overseeing the event, centered on the theme of convergence, a fitting focus for an event that exists to help bring digital-first content ideas to brands for collaboration, and ultimately, transaction.
“It’s an incredibly complicated marketplace right now. We honestly believe that it’s going to level off very soon but that’s what this acquisition-convergence movement…will help create,” said Claudia Cahill, OMD’s chief content officer and the brains behind the Final Front.
So over the course of a full day on the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles, brands including State Farm, JCPenney, Pepsi, Walgreens, and Lowes gathered to get a first look at a mix of early stage content ideas and technologies that could factor into 2015 investment decisions.
And on the presenting side, Sony Pictures’ Crackle and PlayStation headed the day, followed by a blend of studios, digital networks, and technology companies including AOL, Awesomeness TV/DreamWorks Animation, Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia), Discovery, Maker Studios/Disney, NBCUniversal, Machinima, PopSugar, Turner, Twitter, Viacom, and Vice.
The catch? The content presented was required to be entirely new — no leftover Newfronts slop.
And in further contrast to the Newfronts, which is put on by the IAB, OMD’s Final Front is structured to drive the buyers market, more so than simply showcase a slate of content and technology offerings. The event is also more collaborative, so when a talent like Seth Green sits on stage to present content, he’s presenting an idea in early development, which is then voted on by the attending brands, and later fleshed out in a series of breakout sessions.
“Any opportunity you have to be in front of clients and talk about your creative solutions and innovation is a great opportunity,” said Jeff Lucas, from Viacom — a company that did not have a presence at IAB’s Newfronts this year.
From this perspective, OMD has clearly invested itself in finding a way that its clients can take early ideas and mold them into content goals for the forthcoming year.
“We did learn [from last year’s event] that we had to tie more closely to our investment team to make these deals more easily convertible,” says Cahill adding, “It’s our effort to put forth a lot of very interesting ideas for our clients that provides a one stop shop to see ideas as they go into 2015 planning.”
For these brands, it’s an education opportunity as much as it is a buying and collaboration opportunity. While OMD worked to focus the content into the areas of music, family entertainment, and sports, the Final Front can also serve as a chance for some of the attending brands to do recon on what’s in the market versus actively buying. State Farm, for example, has sponsored content for years, their team told me on-site, but it’s a tricky balance to find content integration opportunities that resonate with the insurance brand.
But for the most part, a recurring sentiment at the Final Fronts was that it’s no longer about one screen or one platform but diversifying across all platforms in a way that tells a more comprehensive story for the brand. In essence, convergence.
“We’re looking across all four screens. It’s about buying across the platforms because that’s how people are consuming the content,” said State Farm advertising director Ed Gold, noting that “there’s so much to choose from because there’s so much video out there right now.”
From the event, we spoke with various toppers at OMD and parent company Omnicom Media Group on the major goals and objectives, which you can find here.
But as Sony Pictures president Steve Mosko said in his opening remarks, “The future looks very promising,” and bravo to the OMD’s of the world who are shepherding their clients during this time of convergence.