Vevo Taps Jonathan Carson As First Chief Revenue Officer (Q&A)

Vevo has named Nielsen veteran Jonathan Carson as its first-ever chief revenue officer, a position that will see him leading Vevo’s global sales team across advertising and brand partnerships.

Carson will effectively fill some of the duties previously held by David Kohl, Vevo’s former sales chief who left the company in April. An executive search for the newly created chief revenue role began in late April, and was led by Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff and recruitment firm Spencer Stuart.

Carson started at Vevo Sept. 3, and arrives from Nielsen, where he most recently served as CEO of digital. He joined Nielsen in 2007, after the company bought BuzzMetrics, of which Carson co-founded and served as CEO. A thought leader in social media marketing, Carson also co-founded trade group the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). Prior to BuzzMetrics, he co-founded interactive development firm Intercities Inc., and late-’90s music industry platform OuterSound.com.

Since its debut in 2009 as a joint venture between Sony, Universal and later EMI, Vevo has become the ninth largest distributor of revenues to the industry, accounting for 1.53% of market share, according to full-year 2012 estimates made by Billboard. In November 2012, the company announced it had distributed more than $200 million in digital royalties back to artists and labels in its first three years of business.

Advertising remains Vevo’s primary source of revenue, with CPM (cost per thousand) rates in the $25 to $35, making it competitive with the $32.60 that Credit Suisse expects online video ads to cost in 2013. Vevo has also consistently ranked as the leading YouTube channel partner in ComScore’s monthly U.S. video rankings, attracting 47.6 million unique viewers in July 2013 who watched 581,000 clips and spent 40.6 minutes per user.

Billboard.biz caught up with Carson just four-and-a-half hours into his first day on the job at Vevo.

Billboard.biz: You have a long history in social media marketing. Why the switch to music videos?
Jonathan Carson: Vevo has a huge opportunity in front of them, and so I was really excited to become a part of it. I think the big thing that I took away from my years at Nielsen was the very big transformation that the overall television ecosystem is just starting to go through. And I think in the coming years we’re going to see a convergence of video marketplace television, online and mobile collapsing into a single ecosystem, and that’s going to have a really dramatic impact. Vevo is extremely well positioned to take advantage of that.

Vevo has been expanding to other platforms, including mobile and TV apps. Given the convergence in audience measurement you helped implement with Nielsen’s TV and buzz ratings, what are the opportunities for Vevo to innovative in audience measurement?
What we saw is that metrics are a key pillar of that convergence process. And just in the past year or two, I’d say the digital video players have started to conform to some of the television metric standards and that’s allowed them to start competing in the same marketplace as television players. At the end of the day, the capabilities that the digital players have with targeted advertising with more personalized content offerings operating or distributing in more economical ways will be big advantages when compared to the television incumbents. But getting on the same playing field by being able to tell the same metric story was a really important step of the process.

You’re still very new to the job, but what are some early growth opportunities you’ve identified for Vevo?
I come in with some pretty strong hypotheses around that. There are really great use cases already in place for consumers, in the way that many consumers already listen to music by searching for individual videos. But I think the really big change we’re just starting to see in consumer behavior is what’s happening on mobile devices and in the living room. If you think about the concept of just listening to music with a visual, that’s a very big idea and for the younger generations that are growing up with screens all over their house, they will get accustomed to the idea that when music is on there’s an associated visual. That has just enormous growth implications for Vevo.

The ad models and commercial loads are very different across each of your platforms. Any initial thoughts on how those can be unified going forward?
I think there’s going to be lots of experimentation for us going forward, to figure out what makes sense for the consumer and what works well for the advertiser.

Vevo has been working closely with advertisers to enable video-specific sponsorships during big premieres. What role do you see Vevo playing in the brokering of artist and brand deals going forward?
We have a really flexible platform. If you even think about the content itself, the three-to-five minute pieces of video with a musical bed work very well for brand messages. And brands are very focused right now on creating branded content or branded entertainment so that they can tell their story with a deeper, longer, more rich narrative. And Vevo is going to be a fantastic home for that. As brands get more and more into creating their own content and telling deeper stories, Vevo will be a big part of these brands’ strategies.

 


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