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BARB signs new Dovetail contracts

11 November 2015

‣ Customer consultation endorses BARB’s strategy for delivering cross-platform measurement

‣ Prototype contracts for hybrid methodology will ensure a transparent approach

‣ Project Dovetail is at the heart of BARB’s plans for future contract tenders

Television audience measurement body BARB has announced a major step forward on Project Dovetail, its cross-platform measurement solution, with the agreement of prototype fusion contracts with Kantar Media and Nielsen. This coincides with BARB presenting the findings from a customer consultation at this month’s annual ASI European Television Conference in Venice.

The consultation was designed to inform BARB’s decisions about the tendering of contracts that will deliver its services until the middle of the next decade. The outcome confirmed that BARB’s existing strategic objectives are in tune with the industry’s requirement for robust, cross-platform measurement of television viewing.

Project Dovetail will deliver this through a hybrid measurement system that harnesses the complementary strengths of panel data and device-based data. The first step in the delivery of Project Dovetail was taken in September when BARB introduced the TV Player Report, which is the first joint-industry, audited measure of online TV viewing.

The contracts with Kantar Media and Nielsen will allow BARB to determine which data fusion approach is best suited to the needs of our customers. RSMB has been commissioned to deliver an independent assessment of the two prototypes by June 2016.

Determining the right fusion approach is pivotal to how BARB specifies all its research contracts. As a consequence, BARB is confirming that it is moving onto rolling contracts for the provision of core services that were due to be tendered before the end of this year. The tender process for these is now expected to start during the final quarter of 2016.

BARB is also extending its programme of testing state-of-the-art meters in preparation for this tender. The test programme will include peoplemeters, TV set meters and software meters for desktop, laptop and mobile computer devices from a number of research agencies.

Lynne Robinson, Research Director of the IPA and BARB board member, said “Hybrid measurement is undoubtedly the way forward for BARB. However, the integration of new data sources has to be transparent, while there is the added complexity of making it work for a currency that delivers comprehensive data every day. These decisions will ensure that we evolve within a rapidly changing environment while delivering a stable audience measurement currency.”

Neil Mortensen, Director of Audiences at ITV and BARB board member, said “Understanding how viewers watch TV on every type of screen is a major priority for the television and advertising industry around the world. Measuring how people are really behaving is a tough nut to crack if we’re to avoid the awkward questions that are regularly asked of internet measurement.”

Justin Sampson, Chief Executive of BARB, said “We’re excited to start such an important stage of Project Dovetail. This will help us meet our customers’ expectation for trusted evidence of viewing across all platforms.”

Editor’s notes

BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board) provides official viewing figures for UK television audiences. Its principal funders are BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), ITV and Sky. Advertisers are represented at board level through ISBA.

On behalf of these organisations and many other subscribers, BARB commissions specialist research companies Ipsos MORI, Kantar Media and RSMB to collect data that represent the television viewing behaviour of the UK’s 26 million TV households.

From the beginning of 2016 BARB will have three principal contracts that enable delivery of the TV measurement data. These, alongside the current research providers, are listed below:

‣ Survey design and methodology (RSMB)

‣ Establishment survey and panel recruitment (Ipsos-MORI)

‣ Panel management, meter installation, data collection, data production (Kantar Media)

BARB viewing data give broadcasters, advertisers and other interested parties a minute-by-minute breakdown of viewing at regional and national levels. This information is vital in assessing how programmes, channels or advertising campaigns have performed and provides the basis for airtime advertising trading.

Project Dovetail will deliver robust, cross-platform audience measurement by harnessing the strengths of two complementary data sources.

‣ BARB’s panel of 5,100 homes provides representative viewing information that includes programme and campaign reach, demographic viewing profiles and measurement of viewers per screen.

‣ Broadcasters are embedding software code in TV player apps that generates analytic tags each time a device requests content. This will create census-level data that record the total number of times a piece of content is watched and how long each viewing session is.

Stage 1 of Project Dovetail is the TV Player Report. This beta report is BARB’s first publication of data for viewing that takes place on laptop/desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones. It focuses on activity at a device level, rather than a person level. You can read the latest version of the TV Player Report here.

The second stage of Project Dovetail involves blending the data that come from the analytics tags with the viewing information we get from the BARB panel. By doing this we will deliver robust, cross-platform measurement so that our customers know what’s been watched, by whom and on which device.