EVENT | Google’s Matt Brittin in conversation

    Matt Brittin (Google)

    Lumina was in attendance to a RTS event that proved to be extremely insightful into one of the largest technology players in the industry. From Android, YouTube, Drive, Maps, News, driverless cars, and of course the core business Search, Google has become a major entity within everyday life and has a large impact on television. Lumina has previously looked into the growing trend for technology companies becoming media platforms and broadcasters – click here to read article looking at Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube.

    Matt Brittin, as EMEA President for Google, faced a difficult hour-long session of questions, ranging from advertisers pulling their funding from YouTube, to the developing Voice market. As a strategic individual, Brittin has been at Google’s London office since 2007. Originally the MD for UK and Ireland Operations, Brittin has steadily climbed to lead the entire EMEA business since 2014, but with that, he has faced both corporations and governments trying to reign in Google.

    The evening kicked off with one of the recent news stories, advertisers pulling their advertising funds from YouTube as a result of their adverts appearing beside extremist and unpleasant clips. Brittin responded by identifying the key issue in modern day clips, context. A clip within a news context is likely acceptable, but outright extremist content not so. Identifying the context within the sheer amount of footage uploaded every minute is particularly difficult for Google. As a leading tech player, Brittin explained that they have more staff reviewing videos and these individuals are assisting with machine learning to identify all explicit material before anyone views the content. Impressively, 80% of extremist content is now identified by computers before a human staff member is needed, and this has risen 10% in the past month alone.

    Of course, these improvements had not deterred the major retailers pulling their advertising in 2017. The fallout for the video platform has been severe, with the likes of Lidl, Cadbury and Coco-Cola, plus political parties pulling their campaigns from the platform in June. Major corporations and retailers pulling their advertising demonstrates that Google’s efforts to combat the issue are not being recognised or considered acceptable by the companies.

    While Google’s video business is under pressure from its customers, other major parts of the business  have become increasingly concerned with the mass population thanks to the data the firm collects. When compared to a similar concept with oil – those who control it will win – Brittin immediately disagreed, arguing data is abundant and not finite. He described that data can play a crucial role, only if companies utilise it as additional knowledge. For the television industry, he drew comparisons with major broadcasters beginning to experiment with targeted advertising. At the beginning of November, ITV announced plans to roll out ad-targeting technology onto its channels, so Smart TV owners would receive personalised advertising breaks – based on the data collected (LINK).

    Brittin was optimistic for the future of the television industry, especially content creators in the future. With more content distribution platforms, from traditional broadcasters to the SVODs and video platforms, the creative industries can easily benefit from this. Plus, Brittin suggested that capturing the online data from YouTube videos for short features from television– transparency being a fundamental rule within Google. Utilising IP across a range of formats, platforms and devices leads to greater engagement with audiences, allowing producers to improve their content even further.

    It was a fascinating insight into the internal logic at Google and how all its businesses interlink. By providing 3 business models – advertising, Pay-Per-View and subscription services – Google services are building up a wealth of data and knowledge on vast audiences and sharing most of this data with the original publisher. The points Brittin put across to defend Google’s services were strong and wants to assist industries to transform. Our thanks to the Royal Television Society for putting on the event, it proved to be particularly interesting and on point given the recent news.