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Vevo capitalises on ad industry’s YouTube backlash

By | Published on Monday 3 April 2017

Vevo

Your good mates over there at the Vevos last week took advantage of the recent ad industry backlash against Google by telling brands that if they are seeking guarantees about the kinds of video content their online adverts appear alongside, they should buy their pre-rolls from the music industry’s biggest online video guardian.

Those of you with the better memories may remember that a key motivation for Universal Music and Sony Music when they came together to create Vevo back in the day was to try to boost the ad income generated around music videos on YouTube, by telling advertisers that official music industry content was better than all that ‘user generated content’ nonsense.

At the time the music industry had the Google video site listed under the “must try harder” column, rather than its current categorisation of “fucking anti-christ, must be killed”. As YouTube first gained momentum, and after the majors had agreed licensing deals with the site, the labels initially saw great potential for the ad-funded service, but felt Google was under-selling the advertising that surrounded their content.

Google allowed Vevo to sell the ads that appeared on the official music channels it managed on YouTube, in much the same way the multi-channel networks do for the superstar YouTubers. The pitch to brands was that this content should command a premium over that blurry video of a cat on a skateboard. Some brands bought that pitch, though others might point out that the world seems to be somewhat more excited about the cat.

However, in recent weeks a flurry of brands have announced that they are pulling their ads off YouTube over concerns their pre-rolls and banners are appearing alongside videos posted by political extremists and groups promoting hate crimes and terrorism. Ad agencies seemingly woke up to that problem – the result of Google’s automated ad serving system – following a recent investigation by The Times.

AT&T was among the American brands to follow the lead of European advertisers in bailing on YouTube. A spokesperson told reporters last month: “We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate. Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms”.

Needless to say, Google is busy trying to find a way to reassure advertisers that its machines can do a better job of keeping big brands away from extremist material, or – indeed – just remove said content from its platform entirely. Though, as with Facebook and the fake news phenomenon, the web giant might find that a tricky task without investing in an expensive team of human editors.

Either way, Google’s woes – even if only short lived – are an opportunity for those companies selling ads on specific managed channels on YouTube, where random content from random people can’t randomly appear. You know, like Vevo.

“YouTube is an incredible open platform that’s grown rapidly, democratised video, and created opportunities to reach a seemingly unlimited audience”, Vevo’s Chief Sales Officer Kevin McGurn wrote in a blog post last week. But, he added, “like all opportunities, it can come with risks, and is central to the current industry conversation around brand safety”.

He continued: “With hundreds of millions of hours of content created and consumed on YouTube daily, some brands have found themselves in the unenviable position of being associated with highly objectionable content. I believe YouTube will take steps to address these issues. That said, we believe there is a safer way for brands to maximise their reach today, with the confidence of knowing who and what they’re aligned with”.

That safe way, of course, is the Vevo way. Which sounds like an opportunity for a stats brag. Writes McGurn: “Vevo makes up less than 0.5% of all videos on YouTube, yet according to data from comScore, 43% of YouTube’s monthly audience is watching Vevo content. With Vevo content, a brand can more effectively target where, when, and what it associates with in reaching an audience on YouTube”.

He goes on: “Vevo’s content is not UGC, it’s premium, licensed, and professionally produced, with an enormous and unique global reach. The content is vetted through multiple layers of quality control to ensure the safest environment possible for advertisers including automatic categorisation if the word ‘explicit’ is in the title or content tags, and manual categorisation if the content includes any of the following: vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, or portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities”.

McGurn concludes: “What this categorisation process does is give brands greater transparency into where and how their campaigns run, and the ability to customise how they target. We believe our clients are better served in the safer environment that Vevo offers on YouTube and other platforms. This approach allows them to maximise reach and minimise risk as they tap into the enormous audience consuming music videos online”.

So brands, roll up, roll up with your pre-rolls and get yourself some Vevo ads in the bag. No cats, but no Nazis either.



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