Nick Burfitt
Nov 7, 2016

The new rules of audience measurement in a fragmented world

From combining panel and census data to watermarking and data security, Nick Burfitt of Kantar Media offers principles for the evolving art of audience measurement.

Nick Burfitt
Nick Burfitt

Panel data has long been the bedrock of audience measurement services, as it offers universal coverage and demographic details through a representative sample. After all, representative panels provide independent, platform-agnostic coverage across all TV and video platforms and services.

However, panels alone are challenged when it comes to measuring the long tail of viewing in an increasingly fragmented viewing environment. Census data from viewing apps and return path data from set-top boxes are able to provide granular detail on the devices being used, and behaviour around specific platforms and services. And then enter considerations around the second screen.

The world of media consumption is evolving at an ever more rapid pace, and the audience-measurement industry has a responsibility to evolve alongside it.

Here are some rules that could drive the next-gen audience measurement revolution in Asia and beyond.

Hybrid approaches to measurement are preferable

Combining panel and census data can deliver a complete view of the audience. A hybrid approach to measurement allows the creation, development and implementation of advanced data integration models that meet the needs of the industry. 

Beyond the integration of panel and census data, data scientists can also bring together different data sets, such as purchase, social TV and ad expenditure to create greater insights into audiences. Possessing the right technology to measure what is being viewed on TV sets (be it live, catch-up, time-shifted or on-demand) and devices such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and computers, as well as the expertise to bring data sets together, is imperative to providing a total view of the audience.

The power of audience data should be enhanced

Accurate audience measurement provides insights into viewing behaviour that can be enhanced with additional data sets. These include social TV buzz and second-screen activity, such as the Twitter TV Ratings service recently launched in the Philippines. This data enables greater audience targeting, to further understand and enhance viewing data.

Fusing viewing data with purchasing behaviour helps us gain a real understanding of what makes consumers tick; discover the buzz around brands, programmes, products and people; and obtain critical data about return on investment.

Future-ready metering is essential

TV measurement services must be able to perform in the long run, and future developments in TV and video delivery need to be anticipated. When developing metering techniques, service providers thus have to keep in mind how fast technologies develop and how the needs of consumers change.

Watermarking and audio-matching are ways in which we can determine the content being viewed. They are best-in-class channel detection techniques that are completely scalable, and are even more powerful when working together.

Data privacy and security have never been more important

In an increasingly connected world, the stakes have never been higher when it comes to data collection and usage. Panel members need reassurance that their data is kept private and handled securely. A loss in confidence in panel security could lead to worries about unrepresentative panels that distort viewing levels in favour of certain channels.

It is key for research providers to ensure panel information is stored and archived in accordance with the privacy and data protection laws in each market. Panels should also be continuously monitored for evidence of unusual behaviour that could suggest a data breach.

An open and transparent approach to measurement builds trust

The industry needs trust in TV and video-measurement systems. Their primary function as a common currency—a universally understood and trusted metric—means that service providers must always adopt an open and transparent approach to measurement. It is vital that there is engagement and collaboration, whereas black-box solutions can undermine trust.

All in all, there is a need for greater clarity and certainty about the current and future best practice for audience measurement. Most importantly, there is the need for a shared understanding of the gold standard that the industry should maintain, together. 

Nick Burfitt is managing director, Asia Pacific, for Audience Intelligence at Kantar Media

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