The video for "Bones," sponsored by Verizon Wireless, is the first in what MTV hopes it can turn into a kind of ad unit -- one that cuts down on commercial clutter, retains viewers through breaks and helps the network weave more music videos into its on-air lineup.
"We're trying to break out of the commercial clutter, reinvent he experience for advertisers and viewers," said Christina Norman, president of MTV.
The video, which is directed by Tim Burton, has an intro that identifies it as an MTV exclusive premiere brought to you by Verizon and an end card that reminds viewers of the sponsorship. It was created by an MTV division called "Viewer Labs," which looks at how viewers watch content both on air and online and tries to come up with a variety of ad models that increase engagement and integration.
The deal came together quickly. First MTV went to the Killers' record label, Island/Def Jam. "We said, 'We're going to give you more exposure in one 24-hour period,'" recalled Ms. Norman. "This is a way to make sure music videos are abutted next to some of our highest-profile programming."
Then barely two weeks ago, Ms. Norman and Sean Moran, president of MTV 360 ad sales, met with the broadcast team at Zenith Optimedia, Verizon's media agency of record. They presented the idea to the agency, which jumped on board.
Instant report card
The deal kills several birds with one stone. It helps MTV air more music videos -- recently the network has been criticized for not airing enough music videos during the after-school and prime-time hours. It also rejiggers commercial pods at a time when commercial audiences and retention are beginning to come under fire. And it reminds viewers that the content they're watching is indeed underwritten by advertising -- something viewers, especially those of a younger generation, tend to forget.
"The great thing about this business is your everyday report card," said Ms. Norman. "I'm sure we'll hear from our audience right away whether they liked it or not."