Vevo president and CEO Rio Caraeff (pictured on right, with Billboard editorial director Bill Werde) filled in last-minute keynote duties at Billboard's Music & Money Symposium today, talking about the lessons learned since the service launched late last year, as well as the broader strategies to draw branding dollars to the music industry.

While only about three months old, Caraeff says Vevo is already showing great progress. CPMs that were effectively in the $2 range for music videos online are creeping up to the $20 range for some of the more lucrative partnerships Vevo has struck.

Although Vevo uses no ad networks to fill its inventory, Caraeff says the company sold 85% of its ad space last month, all through an internal sales force based in New York, L.A., Chicago, and Atlanta hired from such companies as Hulu, MTV, Microsoft and CBS, among others.

Vevo has an audience of 37 million users in the U.S. and another 7 million in Canada. It's streaming around 20-30 million videos a day and upwards of 300 million a month. Much has been written about how most of that traffic is coming from YouTube - which Caraeff estimated to be around 90% - but he says where the traffic comes from is not a concern since Vevo controls the branding, ad sales, audience measurement and programming.

"It's essentially our space inside of their mall," he explained. "People can drink from whatever faucet they want to. Ultimately we want the water to come to our well."

In fact, the number of visitors to the site since launch took the company by surprise. Vevo famously crashed from the crush of traffic generated the first day it went up, prompting Caraeff to admit that in hindsight he would have waited a few months longer before going live if he know then what he knows now.

"We thought nobody would go there," he said. "We thought after a year or two maybe 3-4 million people would go there."

Going forward, the key to establishing more lucrative branding partnerships around music will be less around the pre-roll video ads, and more about creating custom content teaming a brand with an emerging artist, he said. For instance, Vevo is producing 15-30 second video clips that are basically mini music videos for emerging acts, sponsored by a brand, as a way of setting up the brand to introduce users to hot new artists. That, product placement, and other as-yet undefined initiatives will be the driving force behind Vevo going forward, not necessarily focusing on selling out inventory.

"We're not focused on sell-through, Caraeff said. "I could lower prices and sell out quickly."

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