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Vevo Hires Nielsen Digital Exec as First Revenue Chief

Jonathan Carson Plans to Make the Rounds to Madison Avenue

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Like a lot of internet video companies, Vevo is pressing hard for ad dollars that would otherwise go to TV. That might explain why it's turning to the standard in TV measurement -- Nielsen -- for its first revenue chief.

Nielsen exec Jonathan Carson will join the four-year-old company to manage Vevo's roughly 75-person sales team, reporting to company president and CEO Rio Caraeff. Vevo lost its former sales chief David Kohl in the spring.

Jonathan Carson
Jonathan Carson

Mr Carson joined Nielsen as the company's digital chief executive after selling the social analytics firm he co-founded, BuzzMetrics, to the measurement company in 2007. While at Nielsen, he focused on the convergence of traditional and digital media. Media companies and media buyers continue to sort out that shift, and Mr. Carson is betting digital networks like Vevo will take a bigger role in marketer plans in the future.

The measurement expertise Mr. Carson honed while at Nielsen may come in particularly handy as Vevo looks to further expand its business outside of YouTube and package those properties and audiences to media buyers more attuned to TV. And that's why Mr. Carson will continue making the rounds to Madison Avenue.

"I'll be out there on the street. I was super-involved with both the media companies and the advertisers and agency clients when I was at Nielsen. That's part of what attracted me to this role," Mr. Carson said.

Vevo has been aggressive in attempting to diversify its distribution, which was once overwhelmingly tied to YouTube but that's changing. Mr. Caraeff told Ad Age in June that 30% to 40% of Vevo's U.S. video streams come outside of YouTube. The company runs its own site and mobile apps as well as apps on Apple TV, video streaming device Roku and Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Vevo is one of a minority of YouTube partners to sell its own ads on YouTube, meaning Vevo can bundle those buys with its owned-and-operated properties.

Like many online video companies that stream videos on YouTube, the video site gets a split of those ad revenues (typically 45% for funded partners like Vevo). Then Vevo must also cut out some money for the record labels behind the music videos and account for any back-end costs to stream videos on its owned-and-operated properties.

Mr. Carson pinpointed the living room, mobile and international as three growth areas he plans to explore. He will also likely need to grapple with how to grow Vevo's business in proportion to YouTube's share of it.

Vevo is one of YouTube's largest partners, and the Google-owned company took a stake in the music video service this summer as part of a new distribution deal. Mr. Carson said that he worked closely with Google and YouTube while at Nielsen and looks forward to continuing the relationship at Vevo.

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