Video Music Awards' Ad Revenue Surges on Air and Online

MTV Welcomes Chevy Back but Drops Branded Award

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Kanye West, Katy Perry, Drake, Usher, Eminem, the cast of "Glee" and Cher lead the list of presenters and performers at this Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, airing live from Los Angeles' Nokia Theater. But an equally long list of marketers will be getting some considerable screen-time during this weekend's telecast as well.

For MTV's VMA awards, Yahoo supplemented commercials for products like Yahoo Music and Yahoo search by co-creating an online program called 'Behind The Lens.'
For MTV's VMA awards, Yahoo supplemented commercials for products like Yahoo Music and Yahoo search by co-creating an online program called 'Behind The Lens.'
Official sponsors include Experian's Freecreditscore.com, Honda's CR-Z Sport Hybrid, Rhapsody, Taco Bell, Verizon Wireless and Wrigley's 5 React Gum. Wrigley is replacing PepsiCo as the official sponsor of this year's Best New Artist award, a category the beverage company had sponsored for a number of years. Last year Pepsi also sponsored the VMAs' first-ever branded award, Best Performance in a Pepsi Rock Band Video, which will not be returning.

Ad revenue booked for Sunday's premier tops last year by 26% while total VMA coverage including news and encore performances is up 41% in ad revenue, according to Dan Lovinger, MTV's senior VP-ad sales and integrated marketing. MTV.com's related ad sales are up 68%.

"We're thrilled with our ability to bring new categories like financial and insurance, and we're feeling like the show is going to look different from an advertising perspective," Mr. Lovinger said. "We have 10 new advertisers this year, and over 25 brands. It speaks to the vibrancy of what the VMAs means to the advertising community."

While there will be no marketers' names on the Moonman trophies this year, several will be integrated heavily into the ceremony and its pre-show coverage. Wrigley's 5 React Gum co-created a 30-minute pre-VMA special called "Revealed," which debuted this past Saturday and will re-air at least twice before Sunday's awards. Wrigley will also receive three in-show bumper ads to drive last-minute votes for the user-generated Best New Artist award.

Chevy returns to promote its Cruze
General Motors' Chevrolet is also returning for its first year as an official sponsor since 2007, having bought a few spots in 2008 but taking a year off in 2009 as its cash-strapped parent company reassembled its media strategy. The Chevy Cruze, launching next week, will be featured in a series of custom spots featuring hip-hop artists Ciara and N.E.R.D. culminating in a live-to-tape performance from the Paramount lot in Hollywood, re-ashioned as a 1950s-themed Chevy Cruze drive-in theater.

Mary Kubitskey, Chevrolet's national advertising manager, said that the Cruze was arguably the most important launch in the company's history and needed to be marketed to a group of consumers who don't look to Chevrolet for compact cars.

"We want to go heavy and deep where more younger female consumers are, and this product is a homerun. We're confident you can put us up against any of our competition, including the Corolla and the Civic," Ms. Kubitskey said.

Yahoo supplemented commercials for products such as Yahoo Music and Yahoo search by co-creating an online program called "Behind The Lens," giving MTV viewers and Yahoo users a peek at the making of this year's nominated videos.

"We want to make sure consumers know Yahoo has a fantastic search product where they can find the information they know and love," said Elisa Steele, Yahoo's chief marketing officer. "Music is such a passion point to both of our audiences, so this is about bringing a richer experience to both of our audiences."

Last year's ratings surge
The VMAs' profile has risen among viewers in recent years. The 2009 awards, boosted by Kanye West's early-show ambush of Taylor Swift's acceptance for Best Female Video, averaged over 11 million total viewers across three airings, a 21% increase from 2008's 9.1 million viewers. The program was also 2009's most-watched non-sports telecast among 12-to-34-year-olds, MTV's core demographic.

MTV Networks is also riding on renewed digital momentum, having recently acquired the ad sales rights for Warner Music's portfolio of music videos. New figures from ComScore placed MTV Music Group No. 1 in the music-video category for the first time, ahead of Universal, Sony and EMI's Vevo, MySpace Music, AOL Music and Tone Fuse Media with 53.2 million unique viewers. While ComScore did not break out Warner's percentage of views, the music company is estimated to account for at least 20 million unique viewers, based on average traffic in previous months.

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