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Vevo at the IAB NewFronts: Short-Form Optimization for FAST, CTV, OTT, and Programmatic

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On Thursday, May 2, Vevo, the world's leading music video network, presented “Watch More Music” at the 2024 IAB NewFronts, at New York City's Webster Hall. Topics covered included the challenges of achieving reach, recency, relevancy, and measurement in the current streaming ecosystem, the importance of brand safety and transparency in FAST, and Vevo’s continued expansion into the CTV space. The presentation was followed by a performance by country music superstar Kane Brown.

Kane Brown performing at Webster Hall during the NewFronts Vevo "Watch More Music" event - photo courtesy of Vevo

Before the event, I spoke with Rob Christensen, Executive Vice President, Global Sales at Vevo. He emphasized that the presentation would focus on Vevo’s strengths within streaming television. “I think the theme that we will hear through many of the [NewFronts] presentations, especially for streamers, is the continued shift of legacy investment moving towards streaming TV,” he said. “And within that, why is that important? It's one thing to achieve reach in any ecosystem these days, but it's becoming incredibly more difficult to achieve reach along with things like recency, relevancy, measurement, and interactivity. There's a lot to achieve specifically around context and the quality of content that exists in the streaming TV ecosystem as an owner of an intellectual property set like we are.”

Christensen also talked about Vevo's partnership with AI-powered video creative technology platform KERV, and its ambition to become the world's largest programmatically traded TV network. “We’re building out our ad tech stacks and using our predictive intelligence technologies to create data sets to have much more accurate offerings within programmatic television across our network,” Christensen told me.

Vevo, which is a joint venture of Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, began as a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) on YouTube, and YouTube’s success in the CTV has been a guiding point for Vevo’s own trajectory. Regarding Vevo’s focus on leaning more into the CTV/smart TV space, Christensen said, “When you look at YouTube, I think they're ahead of the game there. Our viewership through the YouTube app on CTV has led us to this strategy. But more specifically, look at what YouTube is really starting to signal on their earnings calls, [saying that the] living room is a new frontier for that business, and they're quite successful. We're leaning into the fact that they're leaning into the living room because it only benefits the content that lives really well on a television screen.”

He also underscored the importance of finding new ways to better optimize short-form content for younger demographics. “I think that all of us should consider ways to play with content sets and test formats of the short variety that could help complement our content and also our audiences,” he said. “I think there's a really strong viewership pattern when it comes to short content around the 13 to 24-year-olds.”

Additionally, he said that platforms would benefit from finding ways to ease Gen Z viewers from watching short-form content on mobile, as they primarily do now, toward TVs. “My daughter is thirteen,” he said, “and she watches a lot of TikTok and a lot of short formats on her phone. If she had the chance to easily cast onto a TV screen and engage in that content, I think she would. I feel like 12 months from now, when we talk about next year's NewFront, a lot of these formats will likely start circling about multiple presentations.”

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