• How Vevo Launched an Advanced TV Business in the FAST Lane

    When well-established companies go through a pivot, the process is often described as trying to turn around an aircraft carrier.

    In Vevo’s case, the move from being a web-centric brand to CTV juggernaut was more like turning an aircraft carrier into a rocket ship - while it’s still moving.

    Back in 2019, Vevo content was regularly ranked among the top ten most watched videos on YouTube across the globe, and revenue was growing consistently YOY.

    Knowing our content on YouTube was already enjoying viewership on the big screens in homes, we began establishing an entirely new business model - one where a Vevo CTV app and strategically placed linear TV channels (FAST channels for you TV ad tech nerds) could become the primary way we connect with consumers, and our top source of revenue.

    Due to the TV-oriented evolution of our business, we had to evolve our products, our marketing strategy, our programming, our relationship with fans – our entire operation. It turns out many of the seeds were planted years before. Here’s how were able to land the plane - and then launch a rocket:

    1) Build a nimble organization from day one.
Vevo is more than a decade old. We’ve never operated like a big legacy company. The talent we attract comes to work here in part because we are always experimenting, and frequently building new things. The only way that works over time is to structure a company in a way that teams are empowered and layers and bureaucracy don’t get in their way. This kind of approach really pays off when leaders elect to undertake a complete transformation of how the company operates. You can move fast, and not break anything.

    2) Build a cross-functional team - and open source the R&D.
Often, when leaders explore a new project or look to develop a potential game-changing product or revenue stream, they take the ‘startup’ within a company approach - i.e., take a group of top talent and put them on an island. In our case, we felt it was crucial to not establish a ‘Vevo Everywhere’ team that operates separately from the rest of the rank and file, but instead, pulled in members from across the organization. Not only did this avoid creating an ‘us against them’ feeling, but it also allowed for the best ideas to flow back and forth, while serving to evangelize the mission across the entire employee base. That way, when we flipped the switch, department heads and employees were bought in, and ready to move.

    3) Lean on your culture.
    It’s one thing to structure your organization so that agility and nimbleness are ingrained in the way people work. You still need to incentivize people to take risks. From day one, we’ve looked to instill values at Vevo, where our teams are encouraged and rewarded by pushing forward new ideas - rather than swallowed up by their own KPIs or day to day responsibilities. When people feel invested and respected, they’ll jump on new challenges first. This was vital, because our CTV strategy equally required a shift in mindset and tech.

    4) Start small, but be ready to go big.
The evolution of our relationship with Roku is perhaps the best illustration of our connected TV strategy evolving into the FAST lane – quite literally. We took our first swing at building a Vevo CTV app with Roku in 2013. The new Vevo CTV experience blew up immediately, and it has an instantaneous galvanizing effect on our company.

    Fast forward to December 2021 when we announced a deeper partnership with Roku  to distribute a Vevo lineup of 10+ linear channels to The Roku Channel, Roku’s FAST offering. Today, viewers can decide to tune into various Vevo genre-specific or decades-dedicated music video channels on The Roku Channel, or they can still seek out the Vevo CTV app experience on Roku – whichever they prefer.

Because of Vevo’s multi-platform digital distribution success, the work we had done was replicable and scalable – and we were positioned to accelerate our rollout. A year later, Vevo was suddenly on 15 CTV platforms (30 now!), and today, CTV ads have gone from driving 4% to 50% of the company’s direct sales revenue.

5) Make decisions for the right reason.
    While there were many practical and financial motivations for Vevo to push forward into the CTV space, there was only one that really mattered at the end of the day. Our young, digital savvy, streaming-first fan base was leading the charge, looking for music content on their smart TVs. We've always prided ourselves on moving at the speed of our audience, and as we saw them quickly adopting the newest phase of video consumption, we were happy to meet them there.

Today, Vevo is a fundamentally different business. We’re a programmer, a product developer, a tech company, and a media distribution engine. We’ve always played a massive role in impacting culture across the globe, and now the market sees us as a true global TV network. Vevo controls its own destiny in a way it never did before. That is thanks to a number of seemingly small but utterly vital decisions about the company we have built and the people we have hired along the way.

    Watch the short interview with Natalie below to learn more.