Vevo logo 2015

Ad-blocking tech poses key threat to music industry

Vevo executive Alex Kisch has said the proliferation of technology which blocks online advertising will become a key concern for the music industry over the next two years.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 15 Oct 2015
  • min read
The executive vice president, business development and business affairs, said that a key priority is to ‘figure out what it means, how it works, and if it’s here to stay’.

‘Ad-blocking technology is potentially very much our problem and we’re concerned about it,’ he assured independent publishers at the inaugural IMPEL Day in London last week.

Some of the publishers present had raised concerns about the technology, which allows online viewers to skip the pre-roll adverts bolted onto music videos. They said its widespread use could impact advertising revenues and ultimately, rightsholder royalties.

‘Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic bullet at this point,’ Kisch said. ‘But there are an awful lot of players out there with a significant amount of clout in the [music video] space - and it would be in their interest to help ensure ad-blocking doesn’t completely eviscerate the market.’

However, Kisch pointed to emergent ‘native advertising’ initiatives, which could help brands integrate more effectively with content and usher in a new era of online advertising.

He said such innovations can provide more effective ways for brands to connect with audiences, as opposed to the easily blockable adverts which are the current norm.

In the US, Vevo has formed a standalone branded entertainment team called Vevo BE to focus on these opportunities.

Kisch said: ‘That doesn’t mean just creating heavily branded pieces of content. If you’re a sophisticated brand and you want to create content that thematically matches your identity and your campaign, we can build more bespoke programming together.

‘There are a number of ways of developing online advertising, but what ultimately catches on with the brand community is deeper sponsorships and brand integrations. But there’s a fine line between from a rights perspective – you don’t want to be moving into the area of endorsement. And from an audience perspective, we need to ensure that whatever we’re doing has a sense of authenticity and doesn’t feel as though we’re basically creating a commercial.’

When questioned on the prospect of a Vevo subscription service, Kisch said it was an avenue the company continues to explore. But he said that Vevo stands in a different position than other paid-for music streaming services because it’s video-only and strictly a premium, non-UGC site, which sells advertising at a high CPM (cost per impression).

The comments were made at the inaugural IMPEL Day, held at PRS for Music’s London HQ, on 7 October 2015.

Independent Music Publishers’ e-Licensing (IMPEL) is a collective of around 40 independent music publishers who have joined together to license their repertoire to online services such as Spotify, Apple and YouTube. IMPEL offers the benefits of collective rights management to independent publishers by combining their repertoire and offering it on a multi-territory basis.

IMPEL Day was put together by IMPEL chief executive Jane Dyball with IMPEL’s apprentice Tom Fennell, and included a morning of independent publisher briefing sessions, an afternoon of presentations from digital service providers and a roundtable featuring industry experts.

In the evening, IMPEL held a gig at a Portland Street venue for delegates and speakers, with East India Youth, JAWS and Devlin.