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May 04, 2022
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1 big thing: Inside Meta's NewFront

Illustration of a billboard with the facebook logo on it turning off
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Meta held its first in-person NewFront last night at Fotografiska, the museum housed in the swanky building notorious scammer Anna Delvey tried to buy. The media behemoth focused its pitch on storytelling and creators.

Why it matters: Meta had never before presented in-person at the 14-year-old marketplace for digital platforms and advertisers held annually in New York.

Details: Whereas NewFronts are typically opportunities to announce new content slates and ad products, Meta's presentation focused on its continued strength.

  • Actress Keke Palmer hosted the 45-minute presentation and shared her experience using Meta's apps.
  • Three other creators cookbook author Samah Dada, stand-up comedian Daphnique Springs and trumpet player Spencer Ludwig also spoke of how Meta has opened doors for them.
  • "Meta is where stories are told, where creators thrive and where brands are built," Meta's VP of Americas Nada Stirratt said.
  • Meta's ad formats are already well known and embraced by advertisers. Indeed, other ad platforms strive to match Meta's tools.

Meanwhile, Stirratt did pitch augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse: "All of us have an important role in building the next era of digital connection."

  • Executives from Wendy's spoke onstage about "Wendyverse," a virtual restaurant built in Meta's Horizon Worlds platform. Though Wendy's is known for its willingness to experiment, execs emphasized the campaign's reach and effectiveness.
  • COO Sheryl Sandberg wasn't in-person but appeared in a virtual presentation at the same time: "With more than 3 billion users across our platform, Meta is uniquely placed to help your brand discover, reach and engage with the audience and the communities, creators and topics they care about."

Yes, and: Snapchat parent company Snap also pushed AR ads and itself as a leader in them.

  • In a highly produced presentation in Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman gave a subtle jab to Meta, saying, "This isn't some far-off, distant, future-verse."
  • Snap also featured its own creators, along with CEO Evan Spiegel interviewing Olympian Simone Biles.

Of note: Meta's event invite promised heavy appetizers, but that proved a virtual reality. The only items of substance were tiny (albeit delicious) slices of Dada's Chocolate Chip Tahini Cake. Attendees were gifted a piece of plastic shaped like a Wendy's Frosty that's valid for free Frosties for the rest of 2022.

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