The latest chapter in the YouTube vs. TV battle saw the online giant suffer a setback in its plan to gain accreditation from BARB.

The site proposed a pilot scheme which entailed providing its server data to BARB, but the organisation declined as it didn’t meet its “gold standards”.

BARB has previously said that any online platform – including the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime – can have its audience figures independently measured through BARB, as long as there is auditing to ensure viewing data is free of bots, gamification and any other flaws, and is based on “average duration audience principles”.
 
Both of these factors were stumbling blocks for YouTube; it isn’t comfortable embedding BARB’s software code on the site – something that broadcasters allow on their online TV players – and YouTube counts a view after a minimum allotted time, rather than the required average viewing duration time. In addition, the cost and practicality of tracking the sheer volume of online views on YouTube has also gone against the platform.

Over the years, the TV industry has had a taut relationship with YouTube as the online platform continues to claim that it holds viewer dominance, particularly with a younger audience. This latest update represents a small but significant blow for the digital giant, especially off the back of seeing it answer its critics on brand-safety issues over extremist content.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for YouTube. While it failed to gain BARB accreditation, the increased popularity of non-traditional linear platforms has aided its cause. According to Enders, just 56% of 16-34 year olds’ total “video time” is now spent watching TV live. These younger audiences are more adept in discovering good video content, a mindset that makes this audience not only more selective but platform-agnostic.

The advertising industry must prepare for a generation of young people who spend more time watching video online and who may not even have a TV set.

YouTube acknowledges the power of joining the industry’s joint currency, but it won’t be straightforward. YouTube needs to justify its recording of views against TV channels before it even comes close to accreditation. The opportunity is great for YouTube, who could tap into a major new source of revenue, and BARB measurement would give them much needed validation, and help them prove how the numbers really stack up.

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