The UK’s Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) has revealed the next stage of Project Dovetail, which has the objective of delivering total reach of programme and commercial audiences across multiple screens.
The rise of online delivery of programmes and commercials has been a catalyst for Project Dovetail. Dealing with audience fragmentation has been an aspect of BARB’s work since its formation in 1981. Another constant has been the importance for advertisers and agencies of reporting the aggregate exposure of advertising campaigns based on cumulative audience reach and frequency. To meet this need, BARB has a responsibility to report audiences equitably across all media channels. The next stage of Project Dovetail is expected to be delivered in September 2018.
This development builds on the successful beta reporting that has been in place since 2015. The beta phase has delivered data on the number of tablet, PC and smartphone devices being used to watch programmes, both on demand and live streaming. From September 2018, its customers will have access to the number of people that are watching programmes across four screens: TV sets, tablets, PCs and smartphones.
BARB’s method for delivering this relies on combining data from two sources:
The development of Project Dovetail means that BARB has established new industry standards for the collecting and reporting of online TV audience data. It has also previously started reporting TV set audiences for non-linear programming and pioneered the reporting of dynamically inserted advertising.
Building on these developments, BARB is committed to delivering comprehensive reporting of TV set usage. Hours spent in front of a TV set each week have remained stable over the long term, although people are increasingly using their TV sets for watching on-demand services provided by broadcasters and online platforms, including Amazon Video and Netflix.
BARB has also been asked whether its data collection and reporting techniques can be applied to forms of AV content that differ significantly from broadcast media channels. These online video services, such as Facebook and YouTube, are distributed solely through the Internet and primarily to smartphones. Content is more likely to be short-form and user-generated, and isn’t covered by broadcast regulations that ensure brand safe environments.
In response to these questions, BARB commissioned a cross-industry consultation that comprised 35 interviews with businesses in different parts of the industry; these included advertisers, agencies, broadcasters and social media platforms.
Two points emerged clearly from the consultation:
The consultation clarified that advertisers and agencies expect any cross-platform audience currency to deliver comparability in three important ways:
BARB says it is committed to reporting audiences for online TV programmes and commercials, on-demand programmes and dynamically served advertising. “The new techniques that we have developed do not sacrifice our guiding principles,” it asserts.
The next priority for Project Dovetail, after the forthcoming launch of people-based cross-platform programme viewing figures, is to deliver an equivalent measure for viewing online TV commercials. This will enable the industry to assess the total reach and frequency of advertising campaigns across multiple screens.
BARB will deliver this in line with the industry’s expectations that have emerged from our consultation process. It welcomes discussions with content owners and platforms that want to participate.