BARB releases its latest Viewing Report, Wavemaker’s Emma Moorhead discusses
how new multiple-screen data is changing the way that agencies plan television
The media industry is in search of the Holy
Grail: a single-source measurement of TV viewing across all screens and
channels. In 2018, we got one step closer to this with the launch of
multiple-screen viewing figures, the first stage of BARB’s Project Dovetail
initiative. While these additional data are very much welcomed, how do they
change the way we deliver the best outcomes for our clients?
Overnight viewing figures have formed the
bedrock of how we plan, buy and optimise television campaigns. The launch of a
new campaign goes hand-in-hand with securing a kick-off spot in a top-rating
programme to reach a mass audience. If a programme over- or under-performs,
next-day negotiations ensue to secure the desired number of exposures. But in
recent years, displacement of viewing has made this task more complicated.
Linear television viewing is now regularly
timeshifted. On average, people watch 29.3 daily minutes of television
timeshifted, and this timeshifted viewing accounts for an average increase of
15% on a typical overnight rating. Sometimes it can be more; the launch episode
of Shipwrecked on January 28th 2019 was watched live by 219,000 people, but the
consolidated 7-day figure more than tripled to 685,000. Consolidated ratings
used as a proxy for reach become progressively difficult to estimate, making
the buyer’s job increasingly complex.
content is still watched live by the majority of its audience, in particular
event programming – think of England in the World Cup. BARB data break down the
numbers watching live or timeshifted within seven or 28 days, so we can buy the
right spot when that live first-look is still the key metric; we’re starting to
see greater nuances in how we plan our television content.
addition, while it’s well-documented that linear television consumption is in
decline, this is partially compensated for by the growth of BVOD services. The
appetite to consume high-quality content for several hours a day remains,
albeit fragmented across screens. BARB’s new multiple-screen viewing data give
us insight into how programmes are viewed across TV sets, PCs, tablets and
example, in 2018, Love Island gained up to 27% incremental viewing uplift from
non-TV devices, while Family Guy gained up to 8% uplift. Nonetheless, as a
whole, non-TV set devices add less than 2% to TV set viewing; the TV set
remains the favoured means of viewing.
And despite these additional data on device
consumption, we remain none the wiser as to the incremental reach BVOD can
offer to a linear television campaign across all screens.
BVOD to supplement reach is centred in a linear television-first approach to
planning. Interestingly, another aspect of BARB’s data suggests that
alternative approaches could be sensible to deliver impact in a fragmented
viewing world. BARB can now measure viewing to programmes on BVOD services
before they are broadcast.
example, 1.15m people chose to watch the second episode of Save Me via Sky On
Demand pre-broadcast on TV sets; this was more than half of the total TV set
audience of 2.19m. This increased throughout the series, with the final episode
watched by 83% of people via Sky On Demand pre-broadcast.
how programmes are consumed influences how we approach planning. A linear-first
approach misses the opportunity to reach audiences when the content is at its
most valuable; when it’s providing the watercooler moment. We should instead be
moving towards an audience and content-first approach – buying the right
programming, at the right time for greatest impact amongst viewers.
need to re-evaluate our planning approach becomes even more prominent when we
consider that changes in consumer behaviour are starkest among younger
audiences. Ad-supported YouTube and SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon
remain the top challengers to television’s incumbent media owners.
measure of unidentified viewing – where the TV set is used to do something
other than watch a BARB-reported channel or BVOD service – includes viewing to
SVOD services and online platforms. In 2018, unidentified viewing accounted for
48 daily minutes for all individuals, rising to 71 minutes for 16-34-year-olds.
Greater insight into this consumption would be very much welcomed.
has expressed a willingness to be part of BARB’s Joint Industry Currency (JIC)
model, but in its own words it wants to be “represented appropriately and
fairly”. Here remains a fundamental problem with reconciling television and
Television is measured by impacts in units of
30 seconds, whereas online is measured by impressions with no time exposure
element. For the two to be comparable, we need to use duration-based
measurement for online viewing. Everything needs to be clearly labelled so we
aren’t comparing apples and pears.
Meanwhile, addressable television is on the
rise but is far from ubiquitous. In order to realise the long-promised future
where television is a more efficient, targeted and digital-like medium, we need
to reach a point where content and distribution are more vertically integrated.
this future, new measurement opportunities may complement the data offered by
BARB through the likes of set-top box data. A more digital-like television
future offers the opportunity to deliver precision at scale.
and accurate measurement remains essential to accountability, planning
optimisation, and increasingly so in a world where we see displacement,
fragmentation and disruption. Ultimately, we need to understand the value that
each exposure drives for advertisers. The outcomes are what are important;
measurement allows us to link exposure to value.
industry must come up with a measurement solution enabling better understanding
of viewing patterns across all screens and channels. This is still some years
away, even in the most advanced markets.
Project Dovetail in the UK is setting the example, although we must remain
patient before we achieve multiple-screen advertising campaign performance.
Regardless, the JIC principles underpinning Barb should not be weakened or
everything, linear television has sustained advertiser demand, giving the
impression that it is as effective and essential as ever, but for how long, and
in what balance relative to the alternatives?