Video Visionaries | Michael Law, Dentsu Aegis Network

Redefining Video Content Quality

As audience migration continues from linear TV to online video, “quality,” in the traditional sense, is challenged. YouTube houses a full spectrum of quality—everything from multi-million dollar budget professional content to homegrown videos, shot on a smartphone, consisting of everything from how-to videos to cute puppy montages. So, who defines what quality is and what it is not? And, even once it’s defined, how much does content quality factor into number of views?

Recently, Zefr caught up with EVP, Managing Director of US Media Investment at Dentsu Aegis Network, Michael Law—a video visionary in his own right. Law spoke of brand safety vs. brand suitability, the challenges that lie ahead for advertisers and online video consumption and how quality is in “the eye of the beholder.”

Video Visionary, Michael Law

ZEFR: We’re living in a time when anyone can shoot a video and upload it for the world to see. However—as we both know—not all videos are created equally! How important do you think quality is when it comes to popularity and views?

Michael Law: People expect to have good quality content and that’s being redefined everyday. There’s still billions of dollars being invested in making professionally produced content, but then you’ve got this generation of people who can create a piece of content in 5 minutes on their phone. So, it’s really in the eye of the beholder.

ZEFR: Yes, and as we saw in 2017, not only is content quality up for discussion but also brand safety. Do you see the focus on brand safety parlaying into brand relevance (or suitability) more this year?

ML: Yes, this year we have had to really separate the two.  I think all of the major video publishers have done a good job of starting to say, “we’re going to tackle brand safety,” but it has highlighted brand suitability in a bigger way. It’s really no different than how we think about television—we make sure we align the brand with the content of any given show. That’s how we have to start approaching everything on YouTube. It starts with getting brands to ask the question, “is it just that you don’t like that video or is it that you actually don’t think it is brand safe?”

ZEFR: If suitability at scale is the challenge, we believe content targeting is the solution. How would you describe the benefits you’ve experienced working with us?

ML: What we’ve really seen come to life from Zefr this year is the depth of data that can be provided. Because you’re able to look at every single video, you can give us the viewpoint of what’s coming in and then scale it. Whether it’s suitability or brand safety, you make sure we’re there.

ZEFR: Beyond brand safety and brand suitability – what’s next?

ML: I think there’s still work to be done – this is a never-ending conversation. We can’t just say that we turned some dials, we changed the way we think about video safety and we solved it. There will be other issues and we’ll have to keep facing them. As we think of building brands and plans from a product level up, we can’t make one overarching strategy dictating what’s suitable for every single brand. Every brand is so individual but when you think about people-based marketing and the attempt to make that one-on-one connection, suitability is only going to become more and more important.