NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When MTV Music launched in October, it came off as a last-ditch attempt to monetize MTV's extensive music-video library online in a Hulu-esque format, given that the network makes little time on air anymore for the videos it helped create.
Four months later, the site has its first major integrated sponsor, in AT&T, which will help users "unlock" 15 pieces of content a day from the MTV Vault, which comprises tens of thousands of music videos and other exclusive footage from the libraries of MTV, VH1 and CMT. To unlock the exclusive content, users will need to provide the correct answers to AT&T's music-trivia game, which features more than 18,000 questions across five music genres targeted to whatever music video the user happens to be watching at the time. Sample question asked during a screening of a Snoop Dogg video: "TLC singer T-Boz was married to which rapper for two years?" (Spoiler alert! It's Mack-10.)
The MTV Music sponsorship, which will run through May 12, is a natural extension of AT&T's music-branding efforts such as the AT&T Blue Room, which also offers AT&T users access to exclusive music performances. Chris Schembri, AT&T's VP-media services, said the telecom is aiming to brand every part of the music experience through its mobile, broadband and Uverse TV platforms.
'Sense of value'
"Much like our service, we want to add value to people's lives and enable them to do so many different things," Mr. Schembri said. The MTV trivia game's use of content as a reward also speaks to that goal, by giving "the consumer that sense of value, like you're actually getting something by going through that user experience. Anybody will engage with your advertising if it's going to add to the experience."
The campaign was developed by MTVN's Digital Fusion Group, which worked with AT&T to "create an advertising message that's actually content, and do it in a way that's natural," said Jason Witt, Digital Fusion's senior VP-general manager. "Five years ago, if AT&T wanted to be close to music, they buy a sponsorship on a site or do some co-branded advertising. Now you actually have AT&T enabling this entire archived access and creating content that's actually complementary to the trivia games."
It's also rare in a tight ad market that any major advertiser would shell out for what seems like a generic branding campaign when marketing plans are hyper-focused on moving product. Mr. Schembri said the MTV Music campaign reflects the efforts of the AT&T Mobility group, which promotes AT&T products and services at the telecom's retail locations. "We've got to make our budget and investment work down dual paths, so we want to be able to give the brand its due, even as we still need to sell products," Mr. Schembri said. "This is a good way to balance that."