5 things we learned from Barb’s CEO about Netflix, YouTube, and Origin

5 things we learned from Barb’s CEO about Netflix, YouTube, and Origin

“Everything we hear in our conversations with [Netflix VP of global ad sales] Peter Naylor and all the team that we’re dealing with is that they want to be part of our total campaign reporting.”

Barb CEO Justin Sampson spoke at The Future of Media last month with Adwanted Events co-founder Justin Lebbon about a wide-range of topics, from streamers getting more involved in Barb to whether the industry should be optimistic about Origin taking off.

Here are five takeaways from Sampson’s session:

Why the likes of Netflix and Disney are more involved with JICs in the UK than elsewhere

Over the past year, the likes of Netflix and Disney+ have become Barb subscribers.

When asked what the hold up has been for the streamers to get more involved with joint industry currencies (JICs) in other markets, Sampson declined to comment on “gossip,” but offered that part of the reason they moved more quickly with Barb is that the UK has “moved further and quicker to provide a joint-industry independent measurement of these services, so the conversation with Netflix was much quicker.”

Referencing an interview given by now-former Netflix ads chief Jerami Gorman at last December’s Future of TV Advertising event in London, Sampson reaffirmed Netflix’s desire to “be a part of the TV industry,” and said that hasn’t changed since Gorman’s departure. He even coyly hinted that “whilst they’ve bought into what we’re doing, there’s maybe more news to come.”

Netflix is now two companies rolled into one

Compete on content, collaborate on data

Barb is taking over governance responsibility for Cflight, the UK’s first unified, de-duplicated TV advertising metric for linear and video-on-demand (VOD) services. When pressed by Lebbon on the rise of VOD going forward, Sampson said it would be wise to keep linear’s importance “in perspective.”

“According to our data, 60% of all viewing, including streaming video-on-demand (SVOD), ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and video sharing, is linear. And we know of the £5.5bn spent on TV advertising, the vast majority of that is linear, which is accounted for by Barb. The rest is under Cflight, which is coming under Barb.”

Sampson elaborated that Barb’s taking over responsibility for Cflight is an excellent example of the “values of joint-industry principles to oversee measurement,” and invoked a comment made at last year’s Future of TV Advertising confernece by ITV’s commercial manging director Kelly Williams, who spoke of the importance of competing “like mad” on content while collaborating on data and measurement.

Hopeful for more progress with YouTube

Lebbon asked Sampson about the at times testy relationship between Barb and Google-owned YouTube. In April, Barb enforced restrictions on YouTube’s use of its commercial spot logs until an impasse over measurement standards could be reached.

The row called into question the capacity for Barb and YouTube to sort out differences in measurement, and in particular Google’s willingness to comply with more established broadcasting standards.

At the Future of Media, Sampson noted that advertisers are most interested in what it has called ‘Fit-for-TV’ content on YouTube. That is, high quality content that could be shown in a regulated environment. However, he admitted that two big questions remain in terms of whether a joint-industry solution can “embrace” an organisation like YouTube.

“One is, is there alignment on what level of content is being reported? The second is, is there alignment on metrics?”

Sampson said that those questions need to be resolved before delving deep into the technical complications involved with making measurement work with the likes of YouTube.

When pushed by Lebbon on whether he believes tech companies like Google are being honest with their supposed interest in playing ball with JICs, Sampson demurred.

YouTube on TV screens: what Barb has learned from 18 months of data

Moving to second-by-second?

Sampson conceded, however, that if Barb wants to work with the likes of digital and non-linear players (including the likes of Google), a new method for calculating reach and frequency needs to be considered. That could include second-by-second measurement as opposed to minute-by-minute measurement, which Barb currently uses.

Sampson clarified that Barb has not made a decision on whether it will move to second-by-second reporting yet, but that it has put in place the capacity to test and “explore” whether it should.

“It could lead to a situation where we are able to report on a metric that we know Google has said publicly that it likes, which is the MRC standard of at least two seconds and 100% pixels in view,” said Sampson. “But I think what’s already very clear from the data we’ve already explored is that the evidence is that the vast majority of people in the vast majority of cases watch all linear ads all the way through. So there is a possibility in front of us that you could surface that data on an equitable basis for everybody.”

Can Origin succeed?

Lebbon asked Sampson where he would place the odds at for Project Origin succeeding. The cross-media measurement solution hasn’t been met with open arms by many broadcasters, and as Sampson explained, “you really have to be careful of false equivalencies” being made in any such measurement solution.

When Lebbon proded Sampson to pick a number, out of 10, of the chances he believes Origin has of succeeding, Sampson declined. Lebbon offered his own opinion instead: three out of 10.

“We went to digital first instead of broadcasters,” said Lebbon, expressing his scepticism. “In other countries they went to broadcasters first instead of digital, and it’s actually been a bit more successful.”

Sampson replied, “Big industry projects are not easy pull off quickly. But the thing you can’t underestimate is the financial challenge. […] Since Origin was announced in 2019 a few things have happened in the world. Pandemic; Ukraine; cost-of-living crisis. There’s lots more pressure on money everywhere. Let’s see where they are in a year.”

Is Origin the media industry’s version of HS2?

The Future of TV Advertising is returning to London this year and will be held December 5 & 6 at Kings Place, King’s Cross. Be sure to register here.

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