Vevo employs AI for contextual programming, CTV advertising

Streaming music video network Vevo is leveraging artificial intelligence to build better curated CTV programming blocks grouped by similar visual elements and attract advertisers with nuanced targeting capabilities.

Vevo offers 24/7 linear-style music video channels on several free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) platforms such as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus and Amazon’s Freevee, the latter which reached a distribution deal last year.  The company’s music video channels are already programmed by genre (such as Vevo Pop, Rock, or Country), decade (Vevo ‘80s, ‘90s etc) or event (Vevo Holiday), and include ad breaks and hour-long viewing blocks, with each block catering to time of day, artist releases, seasonal events or cyclical moments.

Now it’s tapped AI company Hive to process all of its music videos on a second-by-second-basis, and label different visual components such as logos, objects and theme within each video. Then Vevo feeds the data into a proprietary machine learning model that groups music videos together with similar elements. Doing that not only allows Vevo to program CTV blocks with similar visual elements, but it can also create custom advertising opportunities and packages that relate to a common theme. Vevo used the example of music videos tagged with the same keywords of “beach” and “party” to bundle the videos together for a “beach party” viewing hour which could then be sponsored by a specific brand.

In a statement Vevo VP of Data Science Eyal Golshani said the company works with different data models to maximize monetization and promotional value of the music videos, noting it previously used AI to group videos by mood based on audio and lyrics. That was in 2021 when Vevo introduced ‘Moods’ to allow for more effective targeting by advertisers based on the mood or emotion of music video blocks.

“Now, we are adding another layer, applying similar capabilities to the visuals of our music videos,” Golshani stated. “As the Vevo library continues to grow, these innovations help our dedicated programming and sales team to surface and index content quickly, yet thoroughly.”

Aneessa Steilen, vice president, media and distribution marketing, Vevo, said in a statement that the company is learning much about its music video catalog thanks to the new capability and pointed to other opportunities for advertisers.

“Advertisers are increasingly looking for ways to reach the right audience at the right time, and their targeting strategies have evolved to incorporate context and interests, especially as third-party cookies are deprecated,” Steilen stated. “By being able to detect scenes, objects, and logos, we can purposefully bundle our content into more contextual, brand-suitable opportunities. From a National Pizza Day program to a sports pre-game hour, the synergies we can facilitate between brands and our custom programming will also keep audiences more engaged.”

The latest capabilities come as Vevo’s marked momentum in the FAST space over the past year, including launching 66 FAST channels in 2022 alone. Including holiday pop-up channels Vevo has nearly 150 linear FAST channels globally and also joined lineups on Plex, TelevisiaUnivsion’s ViX, and Hulu + Live TV. CTV also presents a big opportunity, with roughly 30% of Vevo’s views coming through the TV screen, and a U.S. CTV audience of about 65 million viewers per month. It’s also a growing part of monetizing the library as CTV accounts for 50% of Vevo’s total ad revenue, a marked increase from just 4% in Q1 2020.

Speaking to Fierce Video in December, Vevo’s Kevin McGurn, president of sales & distribution, said the company is growing quite a bit from expanded distribution on streaming services and FAST platforms, which themselves continue to gain a large share of viewing eyeballs.

“The popularity of music videos generally benefits disproportionally from when these services grow because it’s such a universal opportunity for people to watch something they wouldn’t typically find on the dial,” McGurn said.

On the programing front, it’s also found people want a curated experience that doesn’t require users to find a new video every four minutes.

“What we found through these FAST services, a lean back experience was a much better way to present music videos,” MGurn noted. “The mass majority of people want to be programmed to.”