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Does the internet need a TV-like upfront? Conventional wisdom was no -- unlike TV, there's no scarcity on the web, and little to buy six or nine months in advance.

But agency execs and clients cast that thinking aside at the first Digital Content Newfronts last year, packing theaters around New York City to witness glitzy sales pitches. YouTube treated them to Jay-Z, and AOL's Tim Armstrong gave away a car.

Last year's Newfronts not only featured stars like Jay-Z, but also helped deals get done.

Last year's Newfronts not only featured stars like Jay-Z, but also helped deals get done. Jason Kempin Last year's Newfronts not only featured stars like Jay-Z, but also helped deals get done.

And beyond the show, upfront business actually got done. Buyers realized that while there's an inexhaustible supply of online banners, the content that really matters -- high-quality video and exclusive sponsorships -- is limited.

Like TV's upfronts, it's difficult to tell how much inventory was sold, but the deal flow was in the hundreds of millions. This year, agency execs expect it to cross $1 billion, partly as a hedge against shrinking ratings and higher prices in the TV market. "The only way to reverse that trend is think about video in a different way and move dollars across screens," said Universal McCann Chief Media Officer David Cohen. "Is this the year we see a billion moving into the market? Could be."

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Does the internet need a TV-like upfront? Conventional wisdom was no -- unlike TV, there's no scarcity on the web, and little to buy six or nine . » more

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