MTVN Activates Digital Media Group Powers

For big site operators, insuring all the digital media cogs work to benefit the larger machine requires oversight at a macro level, and Viacom’s MTV Networks decision to form a Global Digital Media executive team aims to achieve just that. The company has corralled six execs from various digital units to provide strategic guidance to its array of digital properties. The company intends for the group — plucked from its media, mobile, gaming, technology, marketing and distribution divisions — to focus on targeted content, cross-promotion of media brands and digital distribution.

The new group includes former EVP, strategy and business operations at MTV Networks (MTVN), Denmark West, who will now oversee digital operations and marketing as EVP, operations, Global Digital Media. Kenny Miller, previous VP production and programming is now EVP and creative director of the Global Digital Media team where he’ll lead digital platform development.

The former SVP of strategy and operations for MTVN’s Digital and Music Media Group, Nicholas Lehman, will now run worldwide strategy and operations for all of MTVN’s games media businesses as EVP and GM of MTVN Games and Interactive Media Group, a newly-formed unit. Greg Clayman, just promoted in December to run the newly-launched MTVN Mobile Media division as SVP, will maintain that role and title, heading up mobile partnerships, content development and distribution.

Nick Rockwell will also continue in his role as head of MTVN’s Digital Media Technology unit as SVP and CTO. Previously VP national accounts for MTVN, Jason Witt will serve as SVP online distribution and partnerships for MTVN Global Digital Media; in that position, he’ll aim to increase the firm’s online reach, viewers, and direct revenues. All six execs will report to MTVN President of Global Digital Media Mika Salmi.

David Smith, CEO of integrated media agency Mediasmith, hopes the broader digital media oversight could lead to more combined media offerings across MTVN’s properties. “Integrated solutions across all their properties makes a lot of sense,” he said.

MTVN’s digital offerings include kids gaming site NeoPets, Atom Films, MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach and online gaming platform Xfire.

The new team could be especially helpful when it comes to buying digital video advertising on network properties, Smith believes. Indeed, even within large media networks, there exist a variety of video ad offerings, from pre- and post-roll to display advertising served alongside video. “Developing standards across all their properties would simplify the industry,” said Smith. Easing the digital video ad buying process through such standardization, he said, could also boost spending on online video advertising.

According to an MTVN statement, the Digital Media crew will coordinate with executives leading the firm’s various digital media divisions, including its music, media and films unit, entertainment group and international digital operation. MTVN did not respond to ClickZ’s requests for comment by publication time.
The formulation of the MTVN group doesn’t necessarily signal a media industry trend, however. For instance, Condé Nast recently made a move that contrasts MTVN’s. This past November, the magazine publisher shifted operations of many of its magazine Web sites to its interactive arm, CondéNet, offering more flexibility and individual growth for each site.

MTVN also suggested in the statement that the new team will focus on developing targeted cross-platform and cross-branded “culturally relevant” content offerings. Smith, who has purchased MTV cable and Web media for advertiser clients, said the company is well positioned to advance growth into niche and ethnic markets. “Music is a very strong social element, and they are positioned to use music to increase their footprint in those marketplaces,” he said.

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