Why Voice Search Could be a Game Changer for OTT

Much has been made of the ability of voice search to disrupt Google’s dominance in the search world (though obviously Google is one of the early leaders in the voice search space too), but it could have a particularly interesting impact for over-the-top (OTT) apps says Kevin McGurn, CSO at Vevo.

Voice search could provide a much smoother alternative to typing via a TV remote, and make navigating OTT apps much more straightforward, meaning whichever company takes the lead in the space could become very influential in OTT. In this interview McGurn also discusses Vevo’s OTT strategy, and how it positions itself within the music industry. Filmed at New Video Frontiers 2018 in London.

read more here: videoadnews.com

How Vevo Stays At The Top Of The Charts On YouTube

As a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, Vevo creates and distributes more than 330,000 music videos across YouTube and its owned-and-operated channels. Vevo gets access to YouTube’s massive audience, and YouTube gets a cut of the revenue.

With 30 million viewers per day and 116 million per month in the US, according to comScore, Vevo has a valuable audience to sell.

“We package up the top stars in the world and sell that to advertisers,” said Kevin McGurn, chief sales officer at Vevo. “The mass majority of what we do is on audience and the media around it.”

Vevo’s valuable audience and artist relationships have allowed it to thrive through YouTube’s brand-safety debacle. It sustained reach and traffic on the platform, even when YouTube consolidated Vevo subscribers under artists’ accounts in January.

Vevo has maintained 20-30% growth for the past few years, and its inventory recently became available to a broader base of buyers through Googled Preferred.

“We’re a growth story in what is otherwise a massive amount of shrinkage in TV,” McGurn said.

But YouTube isn’t the be-all and end-all for Vevo. While the network has allowed music labels to capture many of the eyeballs that left networks like MTV and VH1 during the rise of the internet, Vevo is still vying to bring them back to the living room.

“YouTube is the largest video search engine in the world, but DirecTV Now, Sony PlayStation Vue and others have the potential to allow users to curate their own music video experiences,” McGurn said. “We watch them closely and think about how we can maximize that.”

How do you differentiate your sales strategy on YouTube?

KEVIN MCGURN: We sell sponsorships against the catalog we represent from Universal Music and Sony – the audience Vevo represents – as a standalone. In most cases, brands buy us first and then go to Google Preferred to get that broader reach.

Most buyers see us as well-differentiated as a legacy, and we enhance that with new products. For brand safety, we offer advertisers the ability to buy on TV content ratings.

We also offer guaranteed reach. Marketers have asked for a long time to limit the frequency of their campaigns. We’re able to fulfill that and transact on it. That helps us differentiate from the traditional go-to-market for Google Preferred.

Did your reach take a hit when YouTube moved all of Vevo’s subscribers from your channel to individual artist accounts?

We haven’t seen tremendous fluctuation in traffic. We track with the growth rate of YouTube because we’re such large percentage of their viewership. It fluctuates with channels and creators, but we have so many channels and so much content on a weekly basis [that] our growth continues to be strong.

How did YouTube’s brand-safety issues affect you?

We’re probably beneficiaries of the changes. YouTube is making maneuvers that will point to a video that’s brand-safe and monetizable. We would be that video in many cases.

We’ve always been brand-safe. We have the world’s largest celebrities. We have a network of folks looking at every video before it goes live and algorithmic curation.

How do you balance the traffic you drive to YouTube versus your own site?

I look at YouTube as an MVPD much like Comcast or DirecTV. At the core, it’s just SEO – trying to figure out ways for the recommendation and search engines to point to your videos more than others. That’s standard practice on YouTube. The platform is fairly agnostic to the buyer. We try to grow all of the channels that we think are relevant to the end user.

What could cause your YouTube traffic to decline?

A change in the algorithm. YouTube is trying to optimize for the most time spent and the highest traffic. They have a lot of controls to point people in the direction of content they feel might get a higher level of engagement.

The influx of content can change how much you’re getting shown. The recency and frequency of video uploads is a good indicator of viewership. We have a pretty eternal spring of content based on our partnership with music labels, so we ride above that ebb and flow that other markets might suffer from.

Brands hate that you can’t measure advertising on YouTube. What metrics are available to you?

We generally just sell audiences measured by Nielsen. I know about the other struggles with who gets to measure what inside the walled garden. There’s definitely more work to do. By no means is measurement where we want it to be.

What can YouTube do better as a media platform?

User-generated and premium content should be treated differently. The production quality, expenditure and talent that professional content represents should be separated.

I’m not a proponent of training viewers to skip advertising. I don’t think it represents the appropriate tax a user should pay to access professional content. YouTube doesn’t offer the ability to change the amount of skippable or TrueView ads called to professional content. That should be a control of the content provider, not the platform, regardless of the user experience.

The economics of MVPDs are a nod toward the production quality and spend it takes to generate these videos. It’s why you don’t see full-length TV shows on YouTube or Facebook. They don’t have an economic equation that warrants a multimillion-dollar episode production.

Why work with them if they don’t treat your content fairly?

It represents the largest distribution opportunity in the world. A music video is ripe for piracy if you don’t allow it to exist on the biggest-reaching platform. You want people to access it in a brightly lit environment.

But that environment has to treat it differently than user-generated content. I would never say YouTube isn’t the right place for music videos. It just so happens that YouTube has been the only game in town for the past 12 to 13 years, but that could change.

read more here: adexchanger.com

Vevo Nears Profitability as it Records 30 Percent Growth

Music video streaming service Vevo has recorded 30 percent growth in revenues over 2017, and says it is nearing profitability. The company broke even for the first time with turnover reaching $650 million this year, up from $500 million in 2016 according to the Financial Times. As online music streaming continues to boom, Vevo is committed to making its ad supported model work, and appears to be on the cusp of doing so.

The results come after a year in which Vevo, largely known for hosting music videos on YouTube though it does run its own website too, achieved some major milestones. The music video for this summer’s earworm ‘Despacito’ became the first video on YouTube to reach four billion views, and Vevo claimed that 43 percent of YouTube’s audience in the US and UK now watched its content this October.

CEO Erik Huggers announced last month that he plans to step down from his role, but he is leaving the company in strong shape for his successor. Under his watch, the company moved into production of original content, and reworked its apps and website, all of which appears to have paid dividends. Huggers’ long term vision, however, was for Vevo to transition to a subscription model, a plan which has now been scrapped.

For now, Vevo’s ad supported model seems to be working. The company, which is a joint venture by Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group, was founded as a way for record labels to monetise growing demand for music videos online, and while music streaming services have struggled to cover licensing costs with ad sales or subscription fees, Vevo may have found a model that works.

The company has not even been hurt by the brand safety scandals which hit YouTube this year. In fact, Vevo says it was buoyed by YouTube’s troubles, as advertisers pulled ad spend from YouTube and poured it directly into Vevo instead.

Kevin McGurn, chief sales officer at Vevo, spoke to VideoAdNews at last year’s TV Rise event about the company’s strategies, detailing how it has diversified its portfolio of mobile, desktop and OTT apps, and how the company has used OTT to drive further growth.

read more here: videoadnews.com