Vevo is set to pull in nearly $200 million in upfront ad deals this year – thanks in part to Taylor Swift

taylor swiftCharles

  • Vevo – the so-called Hulu for music videos – is seeing
    a surge in audience, thanks to artists like Taylor
  • Since embracing a TV-like selling model, Vevo has
    locked in nearly $200 million in upfront ad buys this
  • The joint venture anticipates 130% overall ad revenue
    growth in 2017.

The fall TV season
has barely begun, but Vevo already has a
massive hit on its hands: the Taylor Show.

Specifically, as of Friday, Taylor Swift’s buzzy video for her
new single “Look What You Made Me Do” had generated a staggering
270 million views since it was posted on August 27. That’s been
happy news for Swift fans, and also for advertisers like Dodge,
Flex Dry, and the new Tom Cruise movie “American Made,” each of
what had their video ads running prior to the video on Vevo’s
YouTube channel.

Indeed, big brands have been flocking to Vevo – a joint venture
between Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Abu
Dhabi Media and Google – hoping to capitalize on the resurgence
of music videos overall, and particularly the TV like events that
premieres like that of Swift have become.

Vevo has locked up nearly $200 million in year long ad
commitments this year, after the company shifted its
strategy to “upfront” selling, or selling ads like a TV network
rather than a web video company.

Kevin McGurn, Vevo’s chief sales officer who joined the company
in February, said he reoriented the way the company sold ads,
looking to emulate TV in terms of the currency, measurement and

Instead of focusing on more digital ad staples like branded
content, custom sponsorships, clicks and laser targeting, his
team embraced selling lots of video ads aimed at Vevo’s
massive audience using the equivalent of TV ratings data.

“We wanted to talk to TV buyers and sell ourselves like TV,” said
McGurn. “We put our media inventory in the lead of our sales.”

tom cruise
Tom Cruise’s new movie is
running ads on Vevo


While many companies in the web video space say they want to
“unlock TV money,” ad buyers say Vevo actually has a
legitimate claim. Christopher Geraci, president of national
video investment at the media buying giant Omnicom Media Group,
said that Vevo has graduated to being considered “premium”
status, along with Hulu and full TV episodes streamed on the web
by big networks like ABC and Fox.

McGurn, who’s logged stints at Fullscreen and Hulu, said after
bringing in more than $500 million last year, Vevo expects to
enjoy 130% growth this year. 

It doesn’t hurt that artists like Beyonce, Katy
Perry, Ariana Grande
and Miley Cyrus consistently pump out slickly produced videos
that regularly exceed 50 to 100 million views a piece. When
advertisers commit to upfront Vevo ad deals, they can negotiate
“premiere credits” which gives them first dibs on getting their
ads in front of big videos as soon as Vevo knows about them.

You can bet the next time Swift is about to drop a new video,
Vevo’s top ad buyers will get an email.

To be sure, Vevo’s business model has always been tricky, given
that the bulk of its views happen on YouTube, meaning it has to
share a significant share of ad revenue with the Google-owned
video brand. Plus, Vevo has to share some revenue with its record
company partners. Vevo keeps all the revenue it makes on its
owned-and-operated properties, which include as well as
iOS and Android apps.

Still, the company says that eight of the previous nine quarters
resulted in revenue records. McGurn said the recent concerns
in the ad industry over brands’ ads ending up in dicey corners of
the web have helped, given that most of Vevo’s artists are known

Besides the fact that Vevo attracts big turnouts for top videos,
“their daily audience is very impressive,” said Geraci. In
the US, Vevo averages 25 million visitors a day, according to

“Our scale has always been there, but it wasn’t put in context,”
added McGurn.

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