Dovetail Fusion

The UK television industry has changed beyond recognition since BARB’s launch in 1981. Since then, we have continuously developed our audience currency 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 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, Project Dovetail was established to deliver total reach of programme and commercial audiences across multiple screens.

Our method for achieving this relies on two high-quality data sets:

  • BARB’s panel of 5,300 homes delivers representative viewing information that includes programme and campaign reach, demographic viewing profiles and measurement of viewers per screen.
  • BARB collects device-based data whenever anyone in the UK watches a BVOD service on a tablet, PC or smartphone. These data provide a census-level measure of what’s been watched and for how long.

These two sources are combined using a process called Dovetail Fusion.

Multiple-screen programme viewing figures
The three stages of Project Dovetail have used Dovetail Fusion to deliver multiple-screen programme viewing figures. These stages are:

  1. Collecting and reporting device-based census data – in 2015, we launched the TV player report – now the BVOD services report – which includes viewing time via all BARB-reported BVOD services on PCs, tablets and smartphones.
  2. Programme average audiences – since August 27th 2018, we have reported multiple-screen programme audience figures for all individuals across four screens: TV sets, tablets, PCs and smartphones. The weekly top programmes on four screens can be found in our dashboard. BARB clients can also analyse demographic profiles across three screens, TV sets, tablets and PCs; these data are available through registered data-processing bureaux.
  3. Reach and time spent viewing – in January 2020, we began to report unduplicated reach and time spent viewing across three screens: TV sets, tablets and PCs. This total three-screen viewing is reported alongside consolidated seven-day TV set viewing, which has been our definition of total TV. In August 2021, we launched total four-screen viewing with the inclusion of smartphones. BARB customers and data-processing bureaux can access daily respondent-level data within the new cross-platform panel viewing file (PVX), allowing more extensive analysis.

BVOD campaign performance

In June 2020, we launched a beta BVOD campaign planner to help agencies and advertisers plan advertising campaigns across BARB-reported commercial broadcasters’ linear channels and VOD platforms. This is the first joint-industry tool designed specifically to plan total TV campaign performance.

In March 2021, BARB launched upgrades to the BVOD planner to improve functionality and user experience. The improvements to the tool enable the user to more effectively plan campaigns by optimising budgets across linear and BVOD platforms. The improvements also gave planners the ability to plan campaigns delivered on specific devices. You can watch a detailed video about this in BARB Explained.

The BVOD Planner complements CFlight, an initiative from UK commercial broadcasters. CFlight is modelled on a methodology developed by RSMB based on the BARB gold standard. It will provide post-campaign analysis alongside the pre-campaign planning services offered by BARB’s BVOD planner to give advertisers and agencies a holistic view of their advertising campaigns. CFlight is expected to roll out in 2022 and 2023.

More information
To find out more about how we produce multiple-screen programme viewing figures or for the answers to commonly-asked questions about multiple-screen viewing, please visit our multiple-screen viewing FAQs.

BARB customers can also access our training module.