Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

BARB’s audience expansion: industry reaction on its significance

We canvassed industry opinion on TV measurement body Barb’s announcement last week it was expanding its measurement of audiences to include fit-for-TV content on video-sharing platforms

Gregor Chalmers, Head of Broadcast, independent media agency The Kite Factory

There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not discussing measurement in some form or other with clients, colleagues and our partners at the broadcasters, so it’s great to see this announcement from BARB.  We’re lucky in the UK to have such a robust measurement framework in place for linear TV so it’s reassuring to know they’re turning their attention to more platforms and devices. 

Time will tell what they come up with and patience will be required but if agencies, broadcasters and advertisers lean in it could provide a key step towards more unified measurement of such a crucial channel. 

The average viewer doesn’t differentiate between linear, BVOD, SVOD and so on in the way that we in the industry do, so the sooner we can start talking about, and planning around holistic video buying the better.  It’s great to see from the white paper that linear TV programming remains strong but the growing importance of streaming and digital video is ignored at our peril. 

There is some good thinking coming out of our strategy team on the subject of unified measurement so I’m looking forward to seeing how BARB can help us accelerate that.

Paul Kelly, Director at Analytic Partners

Overall, it’s a move in a good direction as far as being able to have a more comprehensive data source of AV data in the UK. The decision is great for marketing analytics and effectiveness as it allows for more precise insights into consumer behaviour in an omnichannel world. However, as they have stated themselves, not all answers as to “how and when they will extend their reporting of content on video-sharing platforms” are there yet. 

Even though it will make collection easier and more standardised improving comparability, one concern would be as to how they are going to deal with cross-AV-channel impressions and the merging of sources; i.e. combining impressions for something seen on Linear TV and on TikTok. Not all impressions are created equal and so original and re-shared content need to be measured independently to know their true value.

Alice Rutland, Head of AV at The Specialist Works

As an industry we are in a situation where consumers’ content consumption patterns across platforms and devices has progressed much faster than our ability to understand and measure that behaviour. Any move to help bridge that gap in our understanding – and measure audiences from linear TV through BVoD, SVoD and into other video platforms – is a big step in the right direction.

BARB’s choice to focus only on ‘fit for TV’ content does pose challenges, as outside of TV, BVoD and SVoD, the proportion of content that will meet this criteria is fairly limited.

Nonetheless we are now looking at better measurement for us to review broadcaster audiences – and developments in recent months to include Netflix, Disney+, and now YouTube are all positive steps, which amplify the requirement for both online and offline media planners to work more collaboratively.

Measuring audiences across platforms and devices isn’t easy, and it’s one that we haven’t yet been able to answer fully as an industry. BARB has got challenges here too, and has openly said it doesn’t have all the answers on this yet. Having said this, anything that offers greater visibility of audiences is a bonus. The key is to understand the benefits and limitations, to interpret and use insights most successfully.

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