Cynopsis Special Report: Vevo: Always On

 

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM VEVO
 

Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday June 17, 2020

Vevo: Always On
By Cathy Applefeld Olson

As Covid-19 forced citizens around the globe to stay home to flatten the curve, the world is facing the music as never before. Quite literally, in the case of Vevo.

The digital music video platform—which reaches nearly half the US population and 25 percent of viewers in every country where it’s available—during the past three months recorded a surge in audience numbers as fans flock to the TV screen to catch music videos and related entertainment. On top of 40 percent year-over-year audience growth for the past two years, it’s increased another 20 percent since March.

“The work at home environment has proven that not only are people watching on the television and watching more and more, but that actually people prefer to watch music videos on the television,” says Kevin McGurn, Vevo president of sales and distribution. “They’re shot in HD and 4K and they have massive star power, so it’s more of a linear lean-back experience.”

In the spirit of Homecoming, the theme of its NewFronts presentation, Vevo is augmenting both programming and opportunities for advertisers to connect with key demographics. The company’s story this year is one of leveraging business models already in motion that’ve been amplified in current circumstances. For one, during the past year it substantially increased its television distribution just in time for a huge return to the screen as families hunker down and view together. For another, the flexibility it offers advertisers is particularly significant as brands seek new and innovative ways to reach consumers.

More than ever, its motto of “Always on. Never postponed. Never canceled” is resonating for the company, a joint venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Vevo reaches 148 million US viewers each month, 61 million of them via connected TV, with its library of more than 450,000 videos and original content.

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM VEVO

Culture Club
With the all but disappearance of televised sports—and question marks around the massive ad dollars delegated to them—the steadfast role of music as a pillar of popular culture, and the opportunity for brands to sit alongside it, is more salient than ever.

“I don’t think it’s a hard argument to make that music is actually as big if not a larger part of culture than sports,” says McGurn. “And it’s more enduring; advertisers like that angle. It doesn’t mean they’re going to buy us instead of sports immediately, but it does give that comfort that we are speaking their language, and when advertisers come back online we will be part of that foundation.”

“We are a unique driver in original content right now,” says Kinsey Tamberrino, VP of East Coast sales. “Artists are the one influential body that is actually putting out original content. Athletes are not. Actors are not. The fact that music videos are never canceled has always been a message we’ve relayed, but it’s so much more at the forefront right now. Our partners are really seeing it play out in real life.”

As well as messaging around a curated group of targeted videos, Vevo offers brands a voice in several other realms where they can align messaging around key content, demographics or both. The channel reaches 50 percent of the US Hispanic market every month, and offers targeting down to the ZIP code via alliances with software company MediaOcean and others.

Vevo Premieres, centered on music video debuts, have incredible impact. For example, the premiere of Taylor Swifts ‘The Man’, delivered 23 million worldwide views in the first seven days of release, says McGurn, with a 461 percent lift on debut day. “Tens of millions of people will tune in to watch that video in a very short period of time; it really does represent from an advertisers’ perspective, broadcast reach,” he says. Vevo Moments comprises content culled around points of cultural relevancy, a growing space for the company, and Vevo Moods is a category that’s exactly what it sounds like.

“Advertisers have the opportunity to be storytellers within the most relevant content right now,” Tamberrino says. “If that’s original content, great. If it’s a library of music videos that parents grew up on and are now sharing with their children, great. It’s all content giving people the ability to connect.”

Turn Up the Volume
When Katy Perry, Vevo’s most-viewed female artist with more than 19 billion lifetime views, dropped the video for her new song Daisies in mid-May, not only did it drive a spike in viewership, but it represented a production sea change: The video was shot in one day during lockdown, and promptly delivered.

Live music was among the first affected and likely will be among the last to return, and artists are creating both videos and exclusive content that instantaneously go from performance to on-demand distribution. “That gives us more ability to sell the things artists are producing more quickly,” McGurn says. “Typically we wouldn’t get that for concerts or festivals, so we have a bigger window of content production than ever before. It’s different, but it’s something that is in high demand.”

Of course quality of content remains paramount. To that end, Vevo is helping guide labels and artists, from stars to emerging acts, on ways to innovate and elevate their at-home production standards.

“We’re talking with them about the elements of production, whether it be live or doing a more story-boarded environment, to be able to get them the best possible quality assets so the most people will watch and therefore it returns the most on their investment of production money,” McGurn says. “Then they can create video on-demand assets we can filter in and monetize on multiple outlets and platforms.”

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM VEVO

A Seat at the Table
Well before the covid disruption, increasingly fragmented viewing patterns were shifting the way marketers engage with potential customers on screen. As a result, some of the older buying structures that locked advertisers into a rigid commitment have come under the microscope as brands seek more flexibility based on market changes, business needs and as proven out recently, unforeseen events.

“Vevo sits squarely as a great solution to being more progressive in terms of media planning and redesigning the marketing mix,” says Jesse Judelman, SVP of Sales, Americas. “We will see more digital premium properties like Vevo having a seat at the table. The conversations are becoming a lot more timely and the opportunities are surfacing in a more meaningful way than they have in the past.”

Vevo’s premium content has given it an entry into the Upfront mix, which has had obvious benefits even as the industry is rethinking the buying schedule. “We do participate within the typical Upfront rhythm, but candidly because we’re a digital entity we often have had to wait our turn,” Judelman says. “In light of [shifts] in classical television buying patterns, we are seeing much more of an openness from the industry to look at offerings like Vevo at same time they would look at typical television investment.”

Of late, the network also has been getting increased play in the scatter market. “One of the cool things we saw is as television campaigns in the second quarter reached their options expiration—they took options on lots of budget that couldn’t be placed or they weren’t excited about where they would be placed—we were the recipient of a lot of that. Some really big categories in insurance and QSR and CPG,” McGurn says. “And we are continuing to get actual scatter money that has been put back into the market through options that were taken through broadcast. That’s right where we want to be.”

Encores and More
As much chaos as it creates, disruption also creates or accelerates opportunity. For Vevo, much of that opportunity is in the local lane—a business vertical the company’s been honing as part of its go-to-market strategy.

“We hired experts to train our team to better understand the local marketplace and provide solutions that made the most sense,” Judelman says. “Local will be a bigger part of our business as the country opens up, and I believe more national blue chip advertisers will start to devise localized strategies.”

The company entered the political ad space before the 2016 Presidential cycle, and has seen business in that sector grow four-to five-fold this current cycle. “It’s because of our ability to tell the story and show the marketplace we are able to reach such diverse audiences across the country,” he says, adding that brand safety—Vevo provides TV content ratings for all videos, 80 percent of which rate TV-14 or better—and cultural relevance as key drivers.

“It’s ideal content for the ‘Get Out the Vote’ push across the board, across national as well as local races. We view it as an example of what is to come with our local business,” says Judelman, who also notes awareness campaigns regarding social distancing and other topical matters fall under the political umbrella.

“Government and public healthcare companies needed to get in front of consumers, and we’ve been a beneficiary in that regard.”

With expanded content offerings, distribution models and opportunities for brands to connect with targeted, measurable audiences, Vevo this year offers advertisers more flexibility in amplifying their messaging than ever. As viewing patterns and the marketplace continue to evolve, its motto of “Always on” is more salient than ever, so tune in.

To watch Homecoming, Vevo’s Exclusive Digital Upfront Experience, and to learn more about Vevo’s advertiser solutions, please click here or email advertising@vevo.com.

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