Bringing Back Music Videos: Q&A With Vevo's Kevin McGurn

Vevo is going where no programmer has been for years -- into music video programming. Kevin McGurn, Vevo’s president of sales and distribution, is enthusiastic about his company and this programming format.

Charlene Weisler: Why music videos? What is the value proposition? How is it curated, and how diverse is the library?

Kevin McGurn: For brands and agencies, we guarantee massive reach and quality by aligning their messages with the latest in pop culture. In addition to global general audience media, we offer local, spot, multicultural and addressability. In short, we can be bought just like TV, and delivered directly to viewers watching in the living room.

Music video viewership is global, now more than ever in today’s connected world. Latin music, for example, is experiencing huge popularity worldwide. For example, in 2020, the Latin genre was our second most-viewed genre (after pop), bringing in 75 billion views globally, and Colombian star J Balvin was our most-viewed artist, with 2.7 billion global views.



Music is also a great unifier and something that people turn to, especially during tough times. We have a timeless catalog of over 450,000 music videos across all genres and countries, including official releases, original content and live performances.

Examples of our original series include DSCVR, which showcase new artists, and LIFT and CTRL, which consist of exclusive live performances. We also curate our content into playlists by genre, holiday, mood and more.

Additionally, we are seeing more and more consumers watching music videos on their living room television sets. This is a growing trend, and one that was accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers stay at home. In fact, our global connected TV viewership has grown 30% since 2019.

Weisler: How are you overcoming challenges regarding music videos, such as length of tune?

McGurn: Our content is snackable, so we know it fits into daily habits in a number of ways. We offer brands and clients a way to advertise around the most sought after content and show them real value through partnership with us. With over 200 million views across our content on Thanksgiving Day (2020) in the U.S. alone, we see many obvious benefits to our content.

We also know that the digital space is hugely competitive. We compete for attention and time and spend much time working to ensure that we have a strong proposition to make our content stand out across any of the platforms we distribute to.

Weisler: What is your footprint, number of platforms, types of platforms, overall distribution?

McGurn: We currently operate in 14 markets, though our content can be pretty much viewed anywhere in the world through our YoutTube distribution. In addition to YouTube, you can find Vevo videos on any of our linear and VOD streaming partners. We have at least 22 partners to date and reach approximately one billion people each month.

Weisler: What metrics do you use?

McGurn: We organize our inventory, first and foremost, around the audience. The mass majority of our media is demo-guaranteed and priced and measured according to the latest metrics available for connected television, including Nielsen and TVision.  In addition, all of our content and advertising is delivered through internet protocol, so we marry the data and targeting effectiveness of digital with the reach and content quality and transparency of broadcast TV.

Outside of viewership metrics, we also partner with leading brand measurement providers, like Kantar Millward Brown and DISQO, to understand the efficacy of ads on our platform. And, we know that audiences view our ads, remember them, and take action after exposure.

Weisler: What do you offer an advertiser?

McGurn: Few platforms can match our reach and scale. We reach roughly half of the population in the United States and Australia monthly and more than a third of the population for almost every other country in the 14 markets we operate. And being at the forefront of pop culture, whether it be a highly anticipated premiere by The Weeknd, Ariana Grande, J Balvin, or Taylor Swift, our content is culturally relevant and of the moment.

We also give advertisers the ability to connect with hard-to-reach audiences in a way that traditional TV does not.  More than two-thirds of Vevo viewers fall into the 18-49 age group, and more than half of this age group are light TV viewers. Despite many of our viewers not watching traditional TV, we can be bought like TV. And we offer advertisers a content rating system for brand safety, in the exact same currency that TV shows are rated.

Weisler: Has the pandemic impacted your business? If so, how?

McGurn: Vevo, and indeed the art form of the music video, is “Always on. Never postponed. Never cancelled.” We saw an acceleration in our already fast-growing connected television viewership beginning with the stay-at-home orders. In fact, according to TVision, this surge included a rise in co-viewing where families gathered in the living room to watch music videos together.

That momentum has sustained and allowed Vevo to be a viable alternative to cancelled sporting events and original programming no longer in production.

Through the spring and summer cancellation options, Vevo has become the go to place to re-express undelivered GRPs, and that behavior carried us into the largest upfront in the company’s history. The music video has returned to the living room and also to the TV ad buying marketplace … and we will be here for good.

Weisler: Do you have any partnerships?

McGurn: We have been hard at work over the last 24 months building a distribution network and partnering with the likes of Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Echo, Roku, PlutoTV, Apple TV, NetRange, Foxxum, Virgin Media, Sky, Vewd, Xumo, Samsung TV Plus, and most recently, VIZIO. We are announcing several new partnerships this year as part of our continued expansion into linear and streaming television, including in newer markets like the U.K., Europe, Canada, Mexico and Australia.

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