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A digital media planner’s view of BARB

9 September 2014

BARB turns 33 this year so we asked 33 year old Hannah Amess to consider its relevance today and into the future. Hannah is digital media director at Agenda21 Digital.

33 years ago the UK celebrated the foundation of the Social Democratic Party, the appearance of the pioneering Sinclair ZX81 computer, the Eurovision victory of Bucks Fizz and the birth of BARB.

I have always been aware of BARB, mainly for its importance to TV planners and buyers. Although it would seem to have a somewhat limited crossover with my digital world, I can still appreciate the significance of the tools BARB provides.

With the ongoing evolution of the digital media landscape, smart technologies are enabling us to harness vast amounts of data on real time basis. They can also make very precise and granular decisions on who to target, when, where and how often to hit our client goals – whether that be to deliver against emotionally responsive brand led objectives or Direct Response. The sophistication of targeting and campaign optimisation within digital is stronger than ever and throwing out some fascinating client specific audience insights as a result.

So bearing in mind that our media is increasingly bought in this way and the richness of audience insights we’re now receiving off the back of our campaigns, what value do I as a digital planner see coming from a service such as BARB?

1. Validation

There is real value in data that is independently sourced. Nielsen OCR is already demonstrating its value in the digital marketplace as such a source; for instance, verifying if a campaign which set out to reach 25+ females actually did.

BARB will also provide increasing value here across video platforms. As a robust, independent research body it can enable us to decipher whether or not we are reaching our desired audience and as such provide greater confidence to clients in where budgets should be invested.

2. Context

With video consumption becoming more and more fragmented across devices, independent audience research like BARB’s can only help enrich insights. This is particularly the case when we want to understand the environment in which ads are being viewed.

By pulling together data from our online campaigns with unique information from BARB such as the social situation of content viewing and cross device consumption, we can gain a much fuller picture. This will further enhance our knowledge of the campaign insights we are currently able to glean and the potential value associated with each impression bought.

How do I see research tools such as BARB evolving in order to maintain its value to planners and clients? Multi device tracking is vital and the work being carried out by BARB on Project Dovetail is very exciting. This can only increase its relevance to digital media planners.

Linking up BARB audience data, digitally, could also provide value in liberating our smart buying technologies to make use of this data in its decision making processes. This will further our ability to cross reference data sets so that we can make smarter decisions around the value of our audiences. This could be in terms of the value of specific ad impressions traded or regarding the appropriate messaging to deliver.

33 years on and the SDP, Sinclair ZX81 and Bucks Fizz are no longer with us, unlike BARB. This says a great deal for the industry that has supported the development and maintenance of the audience measurement services it provides.

Happy birthday BARB. Here’s to a bright future for us both.