Yahoo Prepares “Infront” Event to Upstage TV Upfront

This post has been updated.

Wenda Harris Millard sees her organization as warring with the media brokers at traditional companies like CBS, News Corp. and Viacom — and with the simplistic models they’re porting over to the Web.

“My concern is, as traditional companies continue to bundle their digital assets with the traditional assets and sell those to their [traditional TV advertisers], that the dialog is not substantial and is therefore reduced to price,” she said yesterday during a session at the McGraw-Hill Media Summit yesterday. “And our precious industry is commoditized before it ever got born.”

To prevent that outcome, Millard is planning an “Infront” event in New York to educate traditional media buyers and others on the complexities and possibilities of digital campaign planning.

“What I decided to do was get in front of the upfront. As long as people who have experience in other media are going to begin to buy digital, [they need] to understand what it is that they can buy and what it is that they do buy.”

I’m still waiting on an invite to this thing, and will try to post more details when I get them.

Wenda promises the “very large” event will eschew Yahoo boosterism, and she’s not necessarily trying to trash the TV upfront.

“The economic model that defines the television upfront is all about a scarcity of inventory that’s desire d by 200 to 250 advertisers,” she said. “For all its faults, there’s a co-dependency that makes a certain amount of sense.”

A Yahoo upfront, she said, wouldn’t make sense because the same dynamics of scarcity aren’t present. “We have hundreds of thousands of advertisers. There’s no economic model that would justify it. What we’re doing is not an upfront. It’s not a Yahoo sales message. I mean, of course it is, because I’m sponsoring it, [but] education is a huge part of what we still need to do in digital.”

Update: So this turns out to be the same event as Yahoo’s Broadband on Broadway showcase next Tuesday, which I’ve already registered for. Nothing new to see here folks. In fact, the discussion of a new event being staged in response to the TV upfront seems a cynical attempt to drive news coverage of something that’s not really new at all. In that case it was quite successful.

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