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How do BARB forecast TV viewing habits changing into the 2020s?

Last Tuesday, 15th October, All Response Media had several attendees at BARBs event ‘Understanding Viewers in the 2020s’. The event was pitched as an opportunity to hear how viewing behaviour would evolve into the 2020s and for us to understand how BARB would be looking to stay at the forefront of measuring these changes. So, what were the key themes and what could they mean for advertisers looking into the next decade?

The conference started with a presentation from Deloitte who have been working with BARB to analyse and forecast potential trends for the industry. In truth, there were little tangible conclusions from this section with much of the talk around loose theory on how the market could evolve. Deloitte actually have included much more detail on some of their forecast outcomes for the industry that can be found here – these vary from the view of digital players taking over the AV space to wipe out traditional broadcasters and agencies, to the theory that traditional broadcasters would successfully transform into digital beasts and remain the primary players. Their more muted scenario ‘lost in diversity’ suggesting that the TV and video industry would develop into a diverse ecosystem in which there are no dominant players – feels the most likely suggestion. If we can take anything from the last decade and transpose it onto the next, it is likely to be that the pace of change in terms of audience consumption habits and reflecting market dynamics, will not be as rapid as some suggest.

Much of the rest of the conference was pivoted around Project Dovetail and its utilisation for broadcasters (both BBC and C4 presented use cases) and for advertisers. Whilst this included some interesting snippets, much of it was just confirming what we already know.

BARB also discussed their new project with Kantar that will include router tech that can track video streaming activity from a designated list of BVoD services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 etc, SVoD services such as Netflix and Amazon, and online video services, YouTube for example. We’re likely to see some data from this in 2020 but exactly how and at what level, is still to be confirmed.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? Firstly, we should note that BARB remains one of the world leaders in terms of providing gold standard TV measurement. As Justin Sampson from BARB mentioned, even the USA is still borrowing from the BARB approach and methodology. The fact that Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has also spoken out in support of his platform being measured by BARB, illustrates the body remains relevant and its early steps in a cross into the digital realm are bearing fruit. Therefore, TV advertisers in the UK can remain confident that the market is leading the way in terms of measurement.

But these developments, raise greater questions for broadcasters, advertisers and agencies on how this data could and should be used. If we begin to look at joint viewing, how will this be traded? And will broadcasters still try and justify a premium on cost per thousand (CPT) for a viewer watching on BVoD? We would argue that they cannot.

All Response Media viewpoint
Joint viewing data will be interesting from a planning and reach analysis point of view, but for performance focussed agencies and advertisers – these come second to cold, hard results. Being able to measure Amazon Video and Netflix will be interesting in understanding our audience, but if we cannot buy advertising on these platforms its implementation potential is reduced. As an agency, we’ll continue to leverage the benefits of BARB for planning as well as taking advantage of its shortcomings in terms of under-reporting linear TV viewing. However, measuring and analysing real life response signals and the associated business uplift will remain of central importance.

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