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Group Nine Media to Sit Out NewFronts in 2019, Will Stage Multi-City Marketing Tour Instead

Group Nine Media, the Discovery-back digital media publisher, says it has a slate of over 50 original shows premiering in 2019. But it won’t be showcasing them at the Digital Content NewFronts marketing confabs this year.

Instead, Group Nine will take the show on the road with a series of presentations across the U.S. showcasing its four brands: Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo and Seeker. The “Nine-Fronts” roadshow will kick off in April. The initial phase of the series will hit New York, L.A., San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Boston. The company hasn’t set a schedule of dates or venues yet.

Group Nine participated in the New York run of NewFronts in 2018 and 2017. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which manages the NewFronts, has not officially announced dates for the 2019 session.

Unlike the TV industry’s upfronts — aimed at selling ad inventory ahead of the fall television season — digital-media players don’t have a finite bucket of advertising avails or a specific time of year when they launch new content.

The advertising opportunities developed by Group Nine “aren’t limited to a season or a cultural event,” Christa Carone, president of Group Nine, said in a statement. “With a social-first, mobile-first mindset, we’re always connecting with our audiences in the moment and providing partners with the contextual relevance to do the same.”

Given the cost of holding NewFronts presentations — which deliver promotional value, but don’t necessarily result in hard-revenue deals — IAB has faced a simmering pushback from companies over the last few years. In 2018, the trade group truncated the original New York series to one week (instead of two) and added a two-day L.A. event in October, in part to cater to companies that wanted to reach West Coast marketers.

According to Group Nine, the company’s brands collectively reach 75% of U.S. consumers 18-34. The company claims to be the No. 1 content publisher on mobile in the U.S. and that its brands generate over 5 billion monthly video views.

Privately held Group Nine was formed in 2016 with a $100 million investment from Discovery, combining three startups backed by Lerer Hippeau Ventures — Thrillist, NowThis Media and the Dodo — with Seeker (formerly Discovery Digital Networks). It subsequently raised a $40 million follow-on round from Discovery, Axel Springer and Lerer Hippeau Ventures.

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