Project Dovetail

The UK television industry has changed beyond recognition since BARB’s launch in 1981.

Throughout this era of constant change, BARB has developed its services in response to fragmenting behaviour patterns. There has been a proliferation of platforms, channels and catch-up services, and in recent years more people have started to watch television and video content through the internet.

BARB’s objective continues to be based on our customers’ requirement for a comprehensive and trusted measurement of viewing to programme and commercial content, regardless of delivery platform. To this end our development strategy is focused on providing a joint-industry, audited measure of viewing to online TV.

We call this Project Dovetail, as the delivery of authoritative data requires us to harness 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. Every time a home joins our panel, we install software TV meters on laptop/desktop PCs and tablet devices. This technology is now installed in over 40% of our panel homes. And it’s rising all the time. (Find out more about how the BARB panel currently works.)
  • Device-based data from web servers provide granular evidence of how online TV is being watched. 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.

Read the latest version of the TV Player Report.

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.

BARB has awarded prototype development contracts to Kantar Media and Nielsen that will help determine the data fusion approach is best suited to the needs of our customers.

More than ever we are working to create innovative ways of delivering the services that our customers expect. At the same time, we can’t step away from the rigour which is in BARB’s DNA. We’d love to keep you up to date with progress, so please sign up to receive updates.