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BARB’s Project Dovetail: The new gold standard?

Bobby Ghayouri

Earlier this week, the launch of the second phase of Project Dovetail was announced by BARB, the UK’s television ratings reporting organisation. The first phase of Dovetail saw the integration of VoD and online viewing figures into BARB’s standard ratings, but was found to have relatively limited scope as it was device, not user, centric.

Dovetail2, in comparison, is far wider ranging. It has seen the introduction of a small body-worn device – set to be delivered to the BARB sample households today – which is able to recognise and track the vast majority of TV, display and radio ads in proximity to the wearer. It achieves ad recognition by use of a small camera and microphone, and can track location with an integrated GPS module.

The wearer is expected to keep the device on them at all times. To ensure validity of the data collected, each device is tamper-proof; any attempt to open or remove the device after installation will signal an alert to BARB’s central monitoring station, negating results from that device. It is hoped this facility will reduce the number of false impacts reported, which have dogged the VoD market for years. BARB had considered implanting the device into the skull of the wearer, but is said to have faced ‘technical difficulties in maintaining the viability of both user and device’. BARB refused to comment further on the matter.

Dovetail2 is able to keep tabs on each and every impact that ads have on our subjects, whether at home, at work, or on the street. There isn’t anywhere that we aren’t able to measure, which is really exciting. BARB launched in 1981, and even by 1984 it became apparent that there was appetite for a more robust measuring method. Now, 25 years after BARB’s inception, we’re finally able to track individuals more efficiently.

Whilst the technology is viewed as ground-breaking data collection by BARB, the wider media industry has inevitably kept their eyes on the prize. Agencies are now looking at how to capitalise on the always-on aspect of the device, to the extent that some are hoping to be able to serve ads based on the real-time behaviour of the panel. Picture heading to the kitchen to make a cup of tea – milk and one sugar – and you get served an ad for PG Tips whilst scrolling through Facebook waiting for the kettle to boil.

All Response Media Viewpoint
Any new technology that enhances the industry’s ability to measure ad impact is always going to be widely lauded as a positive step forward. ARM is heavily invested in bigger and better data, as access to robust information is the bedrock of our agency and, importantly, our client’s businesses. We feel that Dovetail2 provides a unique opportunity for us to glean valuable insights into media consumption, which we expect can be used to drive efficiency and generate better ROI for our clients.

We do acknowledge that some will have concerns around the privacy implications surrounding Dovetail2; ARM, however, welcome our new BARB Overlords with open arms.

Please note: This is of course an April Fool’s article and in no way true. Hope you enjoyed it.

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