How 40 years of music videos on TV taught marketers about context and nuance

The lead image features an illustration of a fist in a TV.

Bryon Schafer, senior vice president, research, Vevo

This month, the world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the music video debuting on MTV. Music videos are an art form that have been on the forefront of TV distribution and media development since their first airing in August 1981. While TV distribution and the overall media landscape have changed since that time, consumer behaviors and viewing contexts have changed even more.

Whether on basic cable, mobile or now on CTV too, because of their timeless appeal music videos have been a constant fixture in a dynamic landscape,and today they are programmed more personally and relevant to tastes, platforms, moods and other measurable contexts.

Mood, interactivity and meaningful context are king in the music video space

Premium music videos are a broadly popular category of content, with an addressable market in the U.S. of almost 90% the population and reaching over half that market each month. Just as the musical tastes within broad audiences vary, so do additional contexts like the mood they might represent or evoke. Time, place and message remain important contexts for marketers, of course, but there are more contexts marketers consider, like moods, than they may have considered 40 years ago. 

Interactive product features such as on-demand and live streaming, search, recommendations, targeted advertising and more have enabled a more purposeful viewing experience for audiences. It means something to a distributor when a consumer watches all 10 episodes of a series season. It gives them a measure of value for that particular content they’ve produced or licensed and it empowers the consumer. Consumers watch content today at times, places and platforms that are available to them, best for them, dictated by them, all informed by data generated from all of their previous interactivity. 

Similarly, marketers want to put their efforts into meaningful context. Questions they ask include: Will my CTV campaign be incremental to my linear TV efforts? How does co-viewing affect delivery? Does the audience vary by daypart, or by demographic? Are they in the room watching the content? Are their eyes on screen? Can we secure premium pod positioning? How can brand and activation efforts work together?

Four essential tools in the CTV marketing toolkit

Marketers use a range of tools to put their CTV experiences into context, as do distributors and artists. Many of these tools were not available when music videos emerged on television sets 40 years ago. Here is a look at a few that make a significant difference to the toolkit every stakeholder can use to quantify the cultural cache of music videos in the advertising world.

  • iSpot helps marketers answer how all the elements of a hybrid TV/CTV plan work together. It puts CTV and traditional TV delivery into context, measuring how a given campaign contributes to a client’s overall audience delivery. What we’ve found is encouraging. Even against the broad and saturated linear TV campaigns, at least 40% of Vevo’s media, for example, has been incremental to those efforts, in every instance. This is but one insight to support diversified planning in today’s market. 
  • TVision also puts delivery together into context for marketers, measuring which viewers are in the room, and who are visually attentive relative to a range of TV networks’ performance. Vevo data shows that viewing levels can vary by daypart and this insight has huge implications for audience measurement, dayparting, and inventory management. It also ties to ad receptivity, where industry and client research supports that advertising to audiences viewing together has more resonance than when viewing alone.
  • DISQO helps put the effectiveness of a campaign’s many moving parts into context, using a large, high-integrity panel to measure complete campaigns. Often this research is designed to address both upper- and lower-funnel behaviors together. 
  • Beachfront puts the effectiveness of CTV ad pods into context, helping build more optimal pods for marketers and consumers alike, informing pod position, frequency and cadence. Fifty-plus years of ad research into pod positioning, effective frequency management and flighting, tells us that the quality of ad exposure and value in these areas can vary widely. We are encouraged by a more optimal, more valuable delivery for our partners.

These are but a few examples of the many objective, third-party tools the industry has today that marketers didn’t have when music videos first became a must-buy 40 years ago. 

The future of TV and CTV is bright — context, nuance and tools are building it

The fundamentals of media effectiveness remain largely unchanged, though so many contexts have changed or become available, as have tools to understand and leverage them as marketers. 

As an industry, TV and CTV markets are better resourced than ever before, and this is  helping to make it easier to understand, plan and buy media in today’s market. Imagine now a world not so far off, where there is seamless synchronicity across mobile and CTV, where voice commands drive tune-in and fandom across a multitude of platforms and services. The industry is almost there, and the tools above are markers along that path, each empowering marketers to offer more context, deeper nuance and improved outcomes along the way.

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