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The Buy-Side View: Q&A with Jellyfish’s Gawain Owen

Tim Cross  30 May, 2019

In this week’s ‘Buy-Side View’, we speak with Gawain Owen, digital strategy director at Jellyfish. In this interview, Owen discusses the over-complication of video and OTT, which metrics he values most, and why he wants broadcasters to open up more.

What is your biggest bugbear when it comes to video and OTT advertising?

Most brands want to drive consumer engagement – they want to delight the consumer and ultimately drive them to make a considered purchase for their brand at the point of purchase.

The over-complication of both video and OTT is one thing that bugs me. Like I say, brands want to delight the consumer, and put out content that drives consumer engagement. At times publishers don’t help themselves – they’re not always clear in what they’re offering, and often that offer is ever-changing so it becomes hard for the brand to keep up with trends.

My other bugbear is the number of middlemen who are not fully clear in what they are offering – whether that’s software providers, technology providers, consultants, or the numerous layers of different agencies who all want to help the brand to drive a particular engagement – because ultimately that’s taking money out of their working media and moving it into non-working media.

How is your agency adapting to the competition from consultancies and the trend towards in-housing?

Jellyfish works with brands as a digital partner, acting either as a consultancy, agency, training or technology partner.  

With regards in-housing, we’ve seen a significant number of brands reaching out to us asking for help and guidance. It’s important to note that in-housing means different things to different brands.

If you look at the extreme case where the brand owns the technology, the brand has all the capabilities in house, it’s doing its own media planning, buying, execution and optimisation – those brands are still working with agencies. What keeps them awake at night is the thought that they’re not actually doing as well as they believe, and what we’re seeing is these brands starting to out-house elements of their marketing activity.

So we as a business completely welcome brands wanting to in-house, and we’ll help them to do that and where appropriate, we’ll have an ongoing relationship with them.

On consultancies, we see that there’s enough business in the ecosystem so that if you’re competent at what you’re doing, you’ll always have clients and customers who want to work with you. We see consultants coming in as a positive because they are helping educate the C-suite on the potential benefits of in-housing.

Which do you think video advertising is the most effective for – generating awareness and brand-building or driving short-term sales?

It’s about communicating with the consumer at the right time, on the right device, with the right content. So what we see is that video has a role to play across generating awareness and brand building and also driving short-term sales.

If you’re looking at driving direct sales, video can be absolutely fantastic for that if you’re using it in the right context. And similarly, it’s brilliant for generating awareness and brand building, when it’s got the right context behind it.

Are you investing in OTT advertising?  How will the shift towards OTT change your TV buying strategy?

We work in North America as well as the UK and other markets, and where there is an OTT supply, we’re often seeing there is a first-mover advantage. Brands are wanting to explore OTT, but we’re very much controlled by the supply, and the supply is often quite nascent. So yes we are seeing a shift, brands are looking at their TV buying strategy and wanting to shift some spending into OTT, because naturally, they want to be where the consumer is. But it’s still very early days in that space.

What could agencies do better to help clean up the industry?

Personally, I see this as a shared responsibility initially between brand and agency in agreeing to the principles of the campaign objectives and then deciding what great looks like.

It is the responsibility of the agency to brief perspective publishers correctly on expectations and then clearly communicate these back to the brand.

Brands need to have the confidence not to work with publishers who will not meet their needs, but also understand that publishers need to be remunerated in a fair manner and therefore not a race to the bottom on pricing.

Which metrics do you value the most when it comes to video and OTT advertising?

So it depends on where in the marketing funnel the brand is trying to engage with the consumer, and the objectives of the campaign. And it’s very important to understand which are the metrics that matter, and which are the vanity metrics.

So in the upper funnel, the essentials are: has my ad been seen, has it been seen by a human, and if relevant, has it got sound on, which for some brands is very important.

In the lower funnel, driving clicks might be the primary objective, so things like viewability, sound on and view through rates will be less important.

What could publishers, broadcasters and pay TV companies do to compete more effectively with the large social platforms?

Broadcasters and pay TV companies need to realise that brands want to have integrated media plans which can be measured and attributed. So often these providers dictate the rules of engagement around adtech which can or can’t be used, the way brands can traffic campaigns, usage of brand data and the forms of 3rd party measurement, brand safety and viewability tools.

Brands very much see the benefits of Broadcaster VOD and arguably would invest more money if the media was not planned and bought in a silo.

Which person in the industry inspires you the most today?

For me, it is actually  two people for different reasons but what they share in common is hard work, ethics and being nice people.

  1. Emir Teffaha of Sublime who came to the UK and took residency in a shared office space with a single desk. Whilst the video skin format was popular Emir faced an uphill task but through pure hard work, dedication and understanding people’s needs he has built a business which is now the go-to video skin provider in the UK. For me Emir is the epitome of “great things happen to nice people”.
  2. Lucia Mastromauro who whilst at Google understood that “selling” to an individual who initially had little knowledge of video programmatic was not going to drive revenue. Lucia was and still is very generous with her time and understands that building a relationship and doing what is right for the client is always the correct way to operate. This inturn builds long term revenue delivery to her company.

Out of all the video and TV advertising campaigns you’ve been involved with, which are you most proud of?

Whilst I can no longer remember specific details I remember it was the very first audience driven programmatic video buy using Google Marketing Platform for KitKat whilst at Nestle. TV was still the main lead but working in partnership with the agency, Google and the brand team we were able to deliver a campaign on both YouTube and a leading publisher which delivered on brand safety, high viewability and delighted the consumer based on brand uplift studies.

The output of this campaign was the driver to which lead Nestle UK&I understanding the benefits of programmatic.

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