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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

What a Ratings Increase For MTV's 2022 VMAs Means For Brands

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Marketing professionals often leave no stone unturned when searching for data that’ll provide insight in regards to consumer behavior. For some, that consists of spending a myriad of hours scouring through databases that’ll lead them in the right direction from which they could draw inferences that’ll help them pique a desired action from consumers.

Unfortunately, when it comes to brand marketing—on far too many occasions, marketing execs only look within familiar data hubs for indications of consumer interests. Which is a problem—because it limits the purview of understanding the interest of their audience.

Which only leads to boring marketing approaches.

If Nielsen’s traditional television ratings system is considered a familiar data hub—MTV’s proprietary metric system called "Total Minutes Consumed" (TMC)—which combines Nielsen’s numbers with their own internal digital data, by tracking data across both streaming and social platforms—is certainly a more diverging source for a brand marketer to collect data.

As reported by Variety, the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards scored 1.59 billion TMC—a 14% increase from their 2021 figure of 1.4 billion TMC. Here’s how their ratings increase for the awards show could provide surprisingly pertinent data for brands that aim to appeal to Gen Z and millennials.

Interest in pop culture is still increasing

Although no longer the powerhouse that it once was in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s—back when many of us were glued to the network on a daily basis, as a Viacom subsidiary—MTV is still widely regarded as a pillar of pop culture—not just in America, but around the world. Which is why the network’s annual video music awards show still appeals to viewers—as well as to some of the biggest artists in just about every genre of music.

This year’s VMAs consisted of performances by: Bad Bunny, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Nicki Minaj, Lizzo, Anitta, Flo Milli, just to name a few.

Historically, the VMAs have always served as an institution for pop culture, celebrating the hottest artists from around the world for a night of great performances, controversial moments (e.g., the Kanye West/Taylor Swift drama), and a recognition of the year’s best music videos.

But for brand marketers and managers, the VMAs—like most other televised awards shows involving popular artists—serve as a barometer of the public’s interest in popular culture at the moment.

Which is why the 2022 VMAs TMC increase of 14% is so significant—because it’s a clear sign that despite all of the digital distractions vying for their attention—Gen Z and millennials (MTV’s target audience) are still tuning in to view the VMAs—regardless of the fact that the network no longer airs scheduled music video shows—instead, choosing to focus more on reality-based shows.

What this could mean for brands

Contrary to popular opinion—marketing isn’t really as much of the ambiguous craft that many perceive it to be. Sure, there’s different approaches for marketers to influence a desired action. But at its core, the objective of marketing is simply to create concepts to connect with consumers.

But it’s the great brands that understand that in order to connect with consumers on a deeper level—a brand must evoke emotion from their audience.

Think about it, people don’t get tattoos of their favorite sports teams because they love the team’s facilities and their excellent customer service. Odds are—that if you have a tattoo of a sports team on your body—at some point—that team evoked a great deal of emotion with you over the years.

"The biggest secret in marketing is this: The psychological motivation for why consumers might buy something is besides the point. You want to understand their cultural world and then rock that world to the core." Says R.E.D Marketing authors Greg Creed and Ken Muench.

If your brand’s target audience consists of either Gen Z or millennials—the better you understand pop culture's relevance to your audience—the better the chances you'll have of being able to create concepts that’ll connect with that audience. And if you demand data to back up that theory—let the ratings for the 2022 VMAs be all the proof you need that viewers are still emotionally invested in pop culture.


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