Experience will move people from television to online videos: Lucas Watson

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | July 04, 2012
YouTube's Lucas Watson talks to afaqs! about how Google is turning the video sharing platform into a lucrative proposition for advertisers.

Lucas Watson, vice-president, global sales and industry marketing, YouTube feels that while it is still early days for online videos to be an ideal destination for advertisers because of low broadband penetration, it has a lot of potential going forward.

In a conversation with afaqs!, Watson talks about how YouTube is working hard to create an experience that will develop a taste for watching online videos amongst consumers, and will help draw more advertisers.


& #VIDEO1 & #afaqs!: Online videos attract only 2 per cent of total digital spends in India. Isn't the figure on a lower side, given the increasing popularity of online videos in the country?

Watson: The general consumption of videos is driven by broadband connectivity. Currently, around 10 per cent of India (120 million people) has broadband penetration. With the numbers being so low, the spends are less. First, the number of consumers watching online videos will have to explode and then, spends for the video advertising market can take off.

However, at the same time, the positive news is that Google's revenue from online video advertising is substantially high, which provides an indication that while we are still in the early days, online video advertising has a huge potential.

Firstly, there is a great need to focus on creating an experience that consumers will love and once people get used to watching videos online, via mobile phone or tablets and other devices, then the video ad market can easily take off. There is a need for a transition from television viewing habit to viewing videos online.

afaqs!: How do you plan to make YouTube an economically viable model?

Watson: Our first objective is to create a delighting experience for our users through a good interface, but even a great interface is not worth without good content. So we have a whole lot of partner organisations that work to attract greatest content creators in the world. Most of the content creators come to YouTube for two reasons - first, we help them reach 800 million people globally and second, we offer creative freedom that is, to do things that they may not be allowed to do on television. At the same time, we work to create an economic system to make it viable for someone to make a living as a content creator on YouTube.

The Indian Premiere League is a great example of bringing great content on YouTube. Additionally, we have partnered with content creators in India to attract all sorts of content including popular Bollywood events as well as original programming.

Meanwhile, we are also trying to build an advertising supported business which is powered by TrueView. We feel that TrueView is probably the most innovative form of advertising in the industry at present. But, we still work with a lot of partners who don't choose to accept monitisation. So we are working to ensure that all the partners we work with should want their videos to be monitised. Currently, the focus is to provide a rich user experience and to put the right ad in front of the right user.

afaqs!: How have the marketers accepted Adwords Video?

Watson: We launched Adwords for Video in April this year and it is currently available in all markets. Adwords for Video makes it easier for any small business owner to actually run video advertising on YouTube. So suddenly a domain which essentially belonged to large advertisers and agencies can be accessed by all, so much so that now every small business owner can upload a video and run advertising on YouTube very easily.

afaqs!: Recently Google+ was revamped - what is being done to merge YouTube with Google+ to create a new kind of experience?

Watson: Video is more enjoyable when it is shared by people, particularly when there is participation in the watching, which automatically proves that videos run best with social. Right now, we are working with Google+ to integrate the experience into YouTube. So, there are certain elements that have been introduced, firstly Google+ offers 'hangouts', where people can have large video conferences together. Interestingly, they can organise the video conference around a particular video content and can talk as well as comment about the game at the same time.

So that's one example, the second example is that Google+ provides personal identity and once we are able to merge the personal identity with YouTube experience, our ability to recommend guest videos will become more relevant for users, because the recommendation will be based on the user's viewership history. So over all this should make the video navigation and suggestion process much more delightful.

afaqs!: You have partnered with many TV channels and have also shown movies on YouTube. It might sound too ambitious, but will YouTube replace the television screen ever?

Watson: We hope in future YouTube will be a preferred destination for both entertainment movies, drama and series, sports as well as music. So we are working with partners in all these verticals trying to convince them why they should come to YouTube to reach their audience. The constraint is that because of the internet penetration, we can only reach about 15 per cent consumers in the entire population. But going forward, with the explosion of broadband connectivity and smartphones, the reach of YouTube is definitely going to improve. The new thing is that there are so many channels that are available on YouTube as compared to television, the experience gets more personalised.

afaqs!: Has Google found a measurement system for YouTube?

Watson: We provide YouTube analytic and also in the Adwords for Videos interface and through other reservation booking systems we are able to provide many of the same metrics that people get in the television industry. So on a reservation basis, we can understand the demographics of the people, which advertisers want to reach and then we can translate the numbers into GRPs - the common language of television. We can also provide estimated time spent calculated through total number of impressions. Soon, we will be able to provide delivery on paid impression, owned and earned impressions. We will be able to show when a consumer watches your advertisement, do they also watch any other video of your brand or share the video with a friend or want to watch it again.

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