The UK’s television ratings body, Barb, has published the results of a consultation into whether it should start measuring online video services like Facebook and YouTube – and they show those platforms still have some way to go to win its approval.
Google, in particular, has been eager for Barb accreditation as it seeks to improve its credibility in the eyes of advertisers following the brand safety scandal and clients’ demands for more transparent ways to monitor the performance of online advertising.
But assurances over brand safety emerged as one of the major hurdles that still stands in the way of Google’s YouTube, and other streaming services, being measured in the same manner as TV in Barb’s survey of agencies, broadcasters, online platforms and advertisers “who spent £1bn on advertising across all media in 2017”.
According to the report, the industry expects:
- “Established TV conventions for duration, viewability and verification” to be maintained even if online players are added.
- “Advertising reach and frequency to be calculated for placements that meet industry-agreed standards for brand safety.”
- To be able to plan “campaign reach and frequency into editorial environments classified by genre/programme and, equally, to verify campaign delivery”.
The findings look challenging for the digital platforms because Barb’s consultation made it clear that the industry expects “comparability” in reporting but, as the body itself notes, television media “operate within regulated and, therefore, brand-safe environments” while the likes of Facebook and YouTube are not regulated in the same manner.
In what could be interpreted as a warning to those players, the report was adamant that “the addition of any channels or platforms should not impact on the integrity of Barb’s data collection and reporting methodology”.
Nevertheless, Barb said it would “welcome discussions with content owners and platforms that want to participate”.
Such efforts have been taking place behind the scenes according to the comments of Google’s EMEA president Matt Brittin at Advertising Week Europe last month.
“I know that Ronan [Harris, Google's MD, UK] and his team here are working incredibly hard to get Barb accreditation ... but you know, there are some challenges in the dynamics of that and we know from talking to advertisers and industry bodies that you really want to see that,” he said. “We really want to see that and we have three large teams ready to do the technical work on that.”
Google has already had one submission for Barb recognition turned down, a year ago, with reports citing YouTube’s apparent refusal with third-party measurement as well as opposing views on metrics as the reasons for its application being declined.