We met YouTube's Lucas Watson on the sidelines of Goafest 2012. Here are the excerpts from the interaction that followed.
CI: You spent 17 years at P&G before joining Google. How do you describe the shift from brand building to selling your brand to advertisers?
Lucas Watson (LW): It’s been a wonderful experience and it’s been very interesting to be on the other side and to see how brands approach digital. The biggest shock has just been, one, how fast Google moves, and two, how many clients there are. So at P&G 20 clients controlled 80% of our business and yet in the advertising world we serve six million advertisers. So that has been a big shift but a wonderful experience so far.
CI: What are the challenges at YouTube? In what way are they different from the challenges you faced at P&G?
LW: At P&G the challenge was to connect with consumers and make your brand meaningful to them and at YouTube the challenge is more about making the brand meaningful to the advertisers but the fundamentals of doing the job are the same at both places. In both cases you try to build trust and ensure that what you are offering and selling is relevant, and that doesn’t really change.
CI: Starting October 2011, You Tube has ramped up focus on getting premium advertising outlets. How has that worked out so far?
LW: It’s been good. I wouldn’t say that we are focussed on premium advertisers only. We are trying to make YouTube as a platform that is globally accessible for all brands whether big or small. We have probably been generating revenues for almost three years but we are still very early in our lifecycle and our dream is that we will create a platform on a global basis that is relevant for brand builders and creates great values for them and at the same time make a place where content creators can make a living. And if it’s a good value for advertisers and good value for content creators and wonderful for the users, then we have a good chance.
CI: What are the challenges in enabling personalised advertising across the globe?
LW: It’s the magic of internet right. So the neat thing about the internet and with computers is that we can provide relevance and personal advertisement and scale and you take all that amazing engineering that Google has, you can take inspiration. If you can inspire the creative initiator and make great work and you can marry those two together there is a chance that everybody watches YouTube and watches advertisement and can get something they love and creates value for the brand and value for the user and the watcher.
CI: You plan to integrate Google+ with You Tube. How do you intend to do that effectively?
LW: It’s already happening. So you can go to YouTube today and you will be signed in with your Google+ identity because there is personal identity that the quality of comments and the social conversation that goes on and on and around the content will be better when you have to put your name behind it and speak and you notice already that you could do a Google hangout from Google plus and watch content together so imagine the future where you and your friends can watch a music video together or watch any premier league together and we can put the fans of the team around the content. That all becomes possible with Google+ and YouTube together.
\CI: You prefer ‘cost per view’ to a ‘cost per impression’ scenario. How acceptable is it in the market?
LW: We are trying to do something different than what the industry is been built on for many years. So there will be early adopters and late adopters but we really stand for a basic principle which was: can we put the user in control and let the user decide why they want to watch the ad which is a novel idea, can we create value for advertisers that they only pay when somebody watches the ad all way through and not make them pay for ads that never get watched and because we can personalise every ad for every person can we actually create more economic income for the creators of the content that get supported by the advertising. We started a year ago and what is really encouraging are the people that have tried to keep coming back for more of it so we think we are onto something and we hope that it will transform the industry.
CI: How do you perceive the changing demand of advertisers for YouTube India?
LW: I am super excited about You Tube India. It is growing just incredibly fast; there is an amazing demand from the advertisers. People who watch YouTube seem to love it. There is an amazing entertainment industry here in India with Bollywood and so all the conditions are right. There is incredible creativity here in India, all the conditions are right for an explosion to happen and we have only hit 10% of the population that has access to the internet. We are just getting started in India.