Streamhub’s CEO, Aki Tsuchiya, gave an interview for Anne-Laure Dreyfus, Head of TV at egta – Association of TV & Radio Sales Houses – in which they discussed the harmonisation of OTT measurement, or, in other words, the steps and implications for setting a unified measurement for OTT with all broadcasters within a single market. They discussed the role of unifying platforms like TVer, LOVEStv, or Salto, and achievements in Japan.
Watch the interview or read it below:
Anne-Laure Dreyfus: Hi, Aki, good to have you with us today. I know that Streamhub works at the centre of VOD/AVOD helping broadcasters compile, analyse and leverage data. I know you have good experience in various markets about how the OTT ecosystem can be a little bit more collaborative and harmonised. So we’re very happy to have a bit of a chat with you today about going beyond measurement for the OTT ecosystem.
Everybody wants an advanced ecosystem in which we have across-industry OTT measurement. Do you think that our industry is ready? Are there certain markets more ready than others to have one of the unified reading markets in that direction?
Aki Tsuchiya: Hi, Anne-Laure. Thanks for having me. I think we’re in a very exciting stage, because, if you think about it, the across-industry measurement has always been at the centre of the TV business, and data has always been at the centre of it. Now with OTT, it’s just been a massive paradigm shift where first movers have brought in their own standards, and the other bigger players starting to do similar things. So in terms of the overall framework, it’s lacking. I think there lies the bigger challenge, because the OTT, let’s say “population”, is a full census that as long as you’re connected somehow, then that’s an audience. So it poses a huge challenge in terms of the data volumes, the data quantity, the calibration of the data, the reliability of whether someone is male, female, and what age groups they are.
Whilst some players have started very differently and broadcasters are catching up in that game, we’ve seen really good examples of operators trying to do something very specific. We’ve also seen JICs and research companies step up their remit to try and create a standard and make OTT measurement that much more relevant thing so that can compete against these massive digital propositions that are put forward by the FANGs and GAFAs of the world.
Anne-Laure: We see some broadcasts trying to build their own measurement system, right? I mean, trying to have a bit of a “semi” walled garden. Do you see disadvantages there? What’s the recommendation? Should they collaborate more? Should the JIC have an important role to play?
Aki: It’s very healthy that individual broadcasters can take initiative to try and push things forward because there’s a huge learning curve. Both behind the technology and, let’s say, behind the business ecosystem, about getting used to it. But at the end of the day, if individual broadcasters keep on going down that direction, it becomes very difficult to create or recreate the similar scale, the brand safety, the standardisation that the TV rating system has always offered.
I think we’re at this transition phase where people are just trying out new things, which is really healthy, but at the end of the day, I think that the JICs or research companies, in general, are in a really good position to try to transfer the existing, setup that they’ve nurtured over the years and the TV side to bring in the OTT side and go beyond even the broadcasters. I know that some initiatives are trying to invite the YouTubes and the Facebooks into that overall standardised measurements. In the case of Holland, both publishers and broadcasters are agreeing to a single video measurement, which I think is a really good start.
Anne-Laure: When you look outside of Europe, I seem to remember that you’re running an initiative in Japan, where the JIC is quite involved, right? How this collaboration is working? What data are they sharing? Can we get inspired by it?
Aki: I think there’s a lot we can learn from that. We were really lucky to be part of that entire ecosystem from the start. I think in Japan they’ve managed to do two things really well. One is that the JIC has stepped up to provide a very large online panel so that it becomes quite representative as a currency, almost. The second big thing that they did is that they’ve created a unified platform called TVer, which it’s all the broadcasters doing a joint-venture to compile all their ad inventory and their best catch up content. So that, from a consumer’s point of view, it’s really easy to answer, to access the content. So it really brings out the best in terms of both the premium content and the advertising proposition, and packages that go with it. So in that setup, what’s been really key is that everyone’s agreed that they don’t need to go in different directions. They invest in different technologies for the measurement side of things and more and more they’re moving towards doing a more jointly aligned activation of that same data.
If you think about what Google does, is that they offer a bunch of free services, collect as much data, and you use that data to specifically target for Google ad words or YouTube videos. So it’s as simple as that. Google is just in fact copying what the publishers and broadcasters have been doing over the years but in the digital way.
So, in Japan, the initiative that Video Research is pushing, and the broadcasters together are doing, it’s really trying to compete with that digital proposition of having a very standardized measurement, which gives all the breadth and safety. It’s a regulated, auditable dataset. It’s not a walled garden and it’s openly tradable, accessible by the different agencies, with really good access controls, so what data you show internally to the broadcasters versus what can you show to the agencies and advertisers it’s very well controlled and that same data can then be used to create specific audience targets to go through the ad servers and create much higher value CPMs.
Anne-Laure: If you don’t mind asking, how transparent is that for the other broadcasters? because I think that this might be one of the fears that broadcasters usually have. They seem to fear a joint data system. What is transparent? How much are they sharing? I think is one of the key points that are preventing some of them for collaborating in some of the European markets. So how have you solved that in the Japanese case, or in some of the other cases you might’ve seen in Europe?
Aki: Absolutely. So let’s say that the part of the measurements, which has kind of run through the JICs tags, offers a very basic set of measurements from views, the unique users and that data set is sort of, um, fused against the, uh, online panel, should we say, then offers that kind of currency. But then when the broadcasters, um, what the broadcasters can do at the same time, they can also upload their first-party registration data and create another sort of view of that same dataset that the JICs are providing. On one hand, um, this sort of online currency sort of type online panels use data is available to see across everyone. But then when the broadcast is each individually, bringing their own user registration data, only each broadcast is able to see that side of the data and then further down the line, uh, you know, for activation purposes as well, uh, that’s sort of protection of the data is very much maintained.
Anne-Laure: From your European experience, is there a barrier, a full consensus? Are there currently some things truly preventing that kind of collaboration on the OTT ecosystem in Europe?
Aki: From what we’ve seen, we’ve had really positive responses from central and Eastern European markets. Maybe in the UK, in a situation where each of the broadcasters is very competitive against each other, I think it’s more a political issue… because the technical framework and the technical execution has been proven to work either through our work in Japan or through various POCs that we’ve done already in Eastern Europe. So, I think it’s more a matter of time and consensus and everyone agreeing. We’ve seen a couple of these collaborative platforms, like Joyn in Germany, or LovesTV in Spain…
Anne-Laure: Salto, in France…
Aki: That’s right. So maybe through those kinds of initiatives, the political, economic, operational barriers can be easily overcome. So maybe in the case of the UK, that’s what’s missing at the moment. But I think in other markets that have these collaborations in place, it will help them in advance that discussion because at the end of the day, it’s about the cost you put in and agreeing on the operational model, because the technology is now almost ready to go.
Aki: That’s what I hope. We recently made an announcement of our partnership with Kantar media across multiple markets globally to really try and I think they have a lot of foresight and vision of how this market can evolve. So I think it’s an exciting time ahead. And maybe it can grow beyond just video to HbbTV, RPD and all kinds of data being centralised by these companies.