Uber’s Lucinda Barlow Tells Future of TV Audience: BVOD Not A Patch On YouTube

Uber’s Lucinda Barlow Tells Future of TV Audience: BVOD Not A Patch On YouTube

The morning audience of the Future of TV conference has been told that the user experience of broadcast video on demand (BVOD) is so bad that it may well be a conspiracy theory to drive people back to the primary free to air channels.

Former Google executive and now Asia Pacific Director of Marketing for Uber Lucinda Barlow, said when she was watching the Australian Open on Nine’s BVOD service, she was served the NSW Health Covid-19 vaccine ad 300 times. Barlow explained the scenario through the lens of her being a high-value light touch customer.

“As an advertiser on the Australian Open, as we’ve been for many, many years, which is always an important moment for our brand, because it’s when we can actually get the light viewers, like us, people tuned in for live sport. And, and in some household households, mine is the same, we don’t have free air, right? We only have BVOD and the BVOD experience of watching live sport wasn’t good . . . As an advertiser, the BVOD experience was nowhere near the Nirvana that was presented earlier.”

Incredibly, Barlow was sharing the stage with Nine’s Director of Powered Liana Dubois.

It was then that Barlow made her conspiracy theory claim that “Nine is actually throttling the BVOD experience, making it so shit so that they drive people back to free to air.”

To her credit, Dubois quickly replied with an invitation to everyone in the room for feedback on what they wanted to be improved in the service.

“You know, what I guess that we would really love nothing more is to write an invitation to clients and to agencies to continue the feedback loop you’ve just started around the sorts of things that are most important to you. But there is an agenda, there is a significant investment in an innovation pathway that will fundamentally evolve the BVOD experience to stand head-and-shoulders above the rest.”

Barlow and Dubois were both speaking on a panel hosted by KPMG partner Karen Halligan and also featured Optus’ director of media and marketing operations, Grant Bingham vice president of international business development Unruly and Sian Whitnall, OMD’s co-CEO, ostensibly to discuss television’s role in the digital customer journey.

The discussion started to go off script when Optus’ Smart expressed surprise in the results of her firm’s attribution research which pointed to YouTube as the most effective brand-building channel.

“Very surprisingly, though, and it might come as a bit of a surprise to  room, our pure brand advertising, our results showed that actually, YouTube was a stronger performer at driving brand love. And that completely threw us because it’s exactly the opposite of what you would expect. Those formats on YouTube were 30s and 50s and formats on linear were in the 15. So, we were very surprised. And I think you know, that’s the thing with data, I guess, understanding the complexities and the nuances.”

This appeared to be all the encouragement Barlow needed as she then broke into a lengthy soliloquy on the virtues of YouTube. Bear in mind, of course, Barlow was the global head of marketing for YouTube, so there’s definitely a question mark at least of bias.

“Measurement is so critical, obviously, for marketers, and it’s so hard and expensive. We actually do advertise on YouTube first, not just because that’s where I come from, but because the measurement is so easy. It’s easy. You can measure a brand, on a reasonably small amount that you can get learnings and insights quickly. So, we use that as our baseline.

“TV measurement, we struggle with. For big campaigns, we will do a market holdout test, which, again, is very expensive. In terms of opportunity costs, we are, you know, holding back, like sometimes even up to 25% of our investment in order to get a really strong read of what the causal uplift was for both brand and sales, we optimised planned …

“When we do have a great campaign, with really strong, creative, well-targeted, all those things well planned, we see phenomenal uplift. But causal measurement is something we’re only able to do on maybe one in three campaigns that we run.

“You know, as soon as the campaign is running on TV, because of that, it’s hard to do it in a way that has deep integrity that we trust as a business. When we use third-party solutions, or we use the network’s own solution, there are always issues with the methodology, no-one trusts it internally. We see crazy results upwards of 20% in consideration, and we just don’t believe it . . .

“With smaller markets and smaller budgets, you just can’t afford to do that. And so again, we turn to YouTube, because it’s so easy because you get that immediate measurement you can see immediately. And you can optimise it, you can go back to your stakeholders internally and ask for more money and so forth. So, I think I would love to see better, easier, more accessible measurement solutions for TV.”

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