Campaign podcast: reshaping of the UK's creative map, plus YouTube on the future of TV

Campaign's October issue and this week's interview guest, Ben McOwen Wilson (YouTube UK MD)
Campaign's October issue and this week's interview guest, Ben McOwen Wilson (YouTube UK MD)

The Campaign team discusses the big features from the October issue, while YouTube's UK managing director joins the podcast to discuss brand safety and the rise of competitors like TikTok.

The topics under discussion by Campaign trio Gideon Spanier, Jeremy Lee and Omar Oakes, in the latest Campaign Podcast, include how the pandemic and Brexit are reshaping the UK's creative map, along with Bartle Bogle Hegarty, MediaCom and Tesco's IPA Effectiveness Awards triumph

This week’s show also features an interview with YouTube's UK managing director Ben McOwen Wilson, who discusses the platform's new ad-buying tool Select, brand safety, the rise of competitors, such as TikTok, and YouTube's role in broadcast-media diversity.

Our cover story examines whether the combined impact of Brexit, coronavirus and remote working will curb London’s dominance and could lead to a reshaping of the creative map of the UK. We also look at the latest Power 100, Campaign's annual roll call of top marketers, and discuss the news that Bartle Bogle Hegarty and MediaCom have won the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix for their role in reviving Tesco's marketing over the last five years.

McOwen Wilson spoke to Campaign shortly after the launch of YouTube Select, a new content platform, which has just been made available for UK advertisers. It is essentially a sequel to Google Preferred, an ad-buying tool the digital titan launched in 2014 to allow marketers to buy ads against the top 5% of YouTube content across different verticals, such as food and comedy.

Brands in the UK will now be able to access “exclusive creator line-ups” and “bespoke content experiences” in order to better match them with content that is most relevant for their advertising. YouTube has also created “Moments” and “Programmes”, which enable brands to align their ads with tentpole events and big, cultural moments, such as the Olympics, the Brit Awards, or a big summer international football tournament.

“What brands and advertisers are accessing is not just the incredible reach that we’ve got, but the incredible connection that audiences are then finding with that incredible content,” McOwen Wilson said.

The move is a tacit admission that YouTube has more work to do in terms of guiding advertisers towards premium content, as well as meeting advertiser demand for more contextual advertising in digital media buying, as opposed to just targeting audiences. More than 500 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute and various privacy restrictions, such as Apple blocking ad tracking on apps used on iPhones, are affecting digital advertisers’ ability to buy against audience data.

“If there’s a particular combination of audience and content category that you’re looking to chase for a particular campaign or for your brand overall, then what Select allows you to do is pull that together in a Custom line-up that only you can access.

McOwen Wilson is a former ITV executive, who tried to launch the joint video-on-demand venture Kangaroo alongside Channel 4 and the BBC more than a decade ago, before it was blocked by the Competition Commission.

When asked whether he now sees subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix as YouTube's main competitor, or whether it is ascendant short-form content platform TikTok, he insists that he is pleased to see a competitive space in digital video, having been "trying to make it work for many, many, many years". In the early 2000s he was also chief executive of European football governing body Uefa's new media division, at a time when, he says, "streaming meant trying to know what dial-up speed people had at home".

Reflecting on YouTube's competitors, he added: “You always want to try and learn from what any entrant into your market is doing and doing well in terms of what they’re delivering to their consumers... Ultimately you can’t drive yourself mad looking to just compete, you have to be clear on what is it you will be true to. For YouTube, that is a promise ultimately to our content creators, that we are the best place for them to build an audience [and] to monetise that audience and create a creative career for themselves.

“As long as that is true, then we have an opportunity to build a relationship with users and advertisers around that. Everyone else can innovate as much as they want around us, but I have to worry about is our promise still true today? If you’re a young creative in the UK today, am I still the best place to build your audience or creative career? I’m proud that that is categorically still true today.”

Episode running order:
1:47 - Campaign's October Issue: the new UK creative map and speaking up for the spoken word (read more)
10:58 - BBH and MediaCom wins the IPA Effectiveness Grand Prix for Tesco revival (read more)
15:40 - YouTube's MD Ben McOwen Wilson on YouTube and the future of TV
41:08 - Ads review, featuring: HSBC; Aunt Bessie's; and Dunelm

This episode was hosted by Omar Oakes and edited by Ben Londesbrough at Campaign.

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