Modern Marketing

Vevo pitches 'safer' buy to advertisers but holds back from calling out YouTube


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

March 31, 2017 | 6 min read

Vevo is quickening plans to win round the advertisers reassessing their relationship with Google, but the music video giant appears to be treading carefully so as not to bite the YouTube-shaped hand that feeds it.

Vevo is one of YouTube’s largest content partners, but in light of the furore around Google’s brand safety the music video platform has positioned itself as an “oasis in the desert”.

In a timely pitch to advertisers this week, chief sales officer Kevin McGurn appeared to argue in a blog post that Vevo is safer than YouTube while affirming his belief that the Google-owned giant’s revenue won’t be “overtly affected,” by recent events.

vevo youtube google ad spend

Vevo pitches 'safer' buy to advertisers but head of sales remains prudent over calling out YouTube

McGurn highlighted Vevo’s core offering as “premium, licensed, and professionally produced,” as well as something that is “vetted through multiple layers of quality control to ensure the safest environment possible for advertisers.”

He also explained Vevo's safeguards for brands include whitelists, the fact ads are hosted only within the firm's own ecosystem and a programmatic offering that is plugged straight into trading desks.

His comments came following a series of articles in the Times that found big-name advertisers were inadvertently funding terrorism, or in some cases having their campaigns shown adjacent to hardcore pornography or neo-Nazi content.

Google swiftly announced a three-prong strategy to address the issue, which has caused names like Marks & Spencer, the Guardian and the UK government to pause ad spend. The approach includes plans to improve the controls given to advertisers and a promise it will work faster in enforcing existing rules regarding takedowns of content.

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Unlike YouTube, Vevo doesn't host user-generated content. It is majority owned by Universal Music Group and Sony Entertainment and primarily distributes music videos via Vevo-branded YouTube channels as well as its own platforms.

The music behemoth claims that despite only making up 0.5% of all videos on the site that 43% of YouTube's monthly audience comes directly from Vevo; a model that is clearly forcing the business to tread carefully when it comes to taking open aim at YouTube.

As such, Vevo's call to brands has been tempered with praise for YouTube's "democratization" of the video space and assertions from McGurn that Google can "figure it out."

"It’s never going to be perfect, there is a tremendous amount that is uploaded every second, every minute, every hour, every day and that’s the power of YouTube – that’s the benefit," he told The Drum. "The thing that it will need to do is weigh the advertising business towards the quality side of the business."

However, he claimed that clients had approached the business with questions in light of the YouTube furore and revealed there had been an "uptick" in interest in Vevo's owned and operated properties, but conceded that its advertising packages were bundled together.

Musing on whether the Google debacle would result in a long-term pullback from brands investing in user generated content, or whether it would affect the internet giant long-term, McGurt said: "This is a dip, it’s definitely a dip. It’s an indentation in the marketplace that I think is a long time in the making honestly but we just wanted to make sure that while we use YouTube as our distribution platform – and it is the most powerful distribution platform in the world – that there’s a really big difference on how we operate."

The head of sales believes it will come down to a combination of tech and policy that will help YouTube solve its problem: "We know specifically, we’re in contact with them all the time, that their team hard at work at that right now. These are some of the best engineers in the world, they will figure out a solution that the marketplace can bare."

While Vevo may be at odds over whether it should twist or stick with its take on YouTube, TV networks have admitted they spy an opportunity to court investment in the midst of the Google backlash. Similarly, music streaming service Spotify has hinted it believes it is in "a great place to answer the concerns in the marketplace."

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