BARB, the TV audience measurement organisation, is responsible for delivering an independent audience currency for the UK television and advertising industry. From September 2018, BARB will begin reporting the number of people watching programmes across four screens. The new measurement capabilities include TV sets, tablets, PCs and smartphones for on-demand and live streaming.
This new system is of course, Project Dovetail. BARB’s CEO, Justin Sampson, explains further: “Having delivered this, the next priority for Project Dovetail will be to deliver an equivalent measure for viewing online TV commercials; this will mean the industry can assess the total reach and frequency of advertising campaigns across multiple screens.”
As viewing behaviours have changed and new players have entered the market, BARB has faced fresh challenges. Here, BARB was asked whether its data collection and reporting techniques can be applied to the audio/visual (AV) delivered by platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. In response, BARB commissioned a cross-industry consultation with advertisers, agencies, broadcasters and social media platforms with the outcome essentially laying down a list of challenges and criteria for newer video platforms.
The tech companies are eager to be recognised by BARB. Last month, Matt Brittin, president, EMEA business and operations at Google (which owns YouTube) said his team are really keen on seeing these partnerships happen. He further states, “having a commonly accepted way to measure YouTube and TV usage is going to be beneficial for everybody. These are not easy problems, but we are keen on seeing progress here.”
According to BARB, the industry expects every cross-platform metering currency to follow “established TV conventions for the duration, visibility and verification…to meet industry standards for brand safety [and to classify an] editorial environment by genre/program and verify campaign delivery”.
When asked directly, BARB would not comment on whether its new requirements automatically excluded YouTube and Facebook from consideration, or whether these platforms would be admitted should they meet the criteria. We’ll be closely following the developments here, but it does seem that unless these online giants were able to guarantee reliable viewing figures in line with BARB’s visibility metrics, or guarantee that adverts will appear next to brand safety content, it is unlikely BARB will jeopardise their high standards on reporting to support these platforms that do not yet satisfy the required criteria.
All Response Media viewpoint
With these new measurement capabilities of BARB to come this September, we will be at the forefront of exploring possibilities on how we could measure response across tablets, PCs and smartphones. This will, of course, be dependent on how the data is provided by BARB and whether the level of granularity will be in line with the current measurements.
One thing to take into consideration is that people consume TV content differently across the four platforms. As ‘on the go’ content can be watched at any time across tablets and smartphones, it is likely we will face challenges in measuring response via our current methodology with linear TV (viewed at the time of broadcast) and will therefore be investigating the most suitable methods in tracking performance.
In response to YouTube and Facebook forming a part of BARB’s data collection and reporting services, it is obvious that both platforms would have to overcome obvious challenges including issues over brand safety and policing user-generated content before they would be ready to be measured in the same way as more traditional broadcasters in the UK.
In May last year, YouTube had planned to gain accreditation from BARB, however, this was denied at the time as BARB felt YouTube did not meet their guiding ‘gold standard’ principles and specific criteria for inclusion, particularly when it came to independent verification of viewing figures. Here, YouTube was willing to make server data available but was uncomfortable with BARB embedding software code on their site – something that broadcasters allow on their online TV players. In addition to the above, BARB also uses visibility metrics not compatible with online video sharing, which is yet another stumbling block.
If we do see this develop, there is a big opportunity here for advertisers to gain insight into cross-media viewership across an online video and traditional TV. Assuming that reporting is in line with BARB’s current methodology, using panel data will mean the exclusion of fraudulent views, which we know can be a downfall across online media.