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How will Project Dovetail transform the broadcast industry?

With BARB (Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board) announcing that they will be publishing their TV Player report this September, what particularly interests us at TVPlayer is how Project Dovetail will transform the broadcast industry when it launches

With BARB (Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board) announcing that they will be publishing their TV Player report this September, what particularly interests us at TVPlayer is how Project Dovetail will transform the broadcast industry when it launches. The delivery of Project Dovetail, a hybrid system that harnesses the power of BARB panel data and device-based data, will allow BARB to officially measure viewing data taken from devices such as laptops, desktop, smartphones and tablets.

The broadcast and advertising industry, which employs the measurement of BARB’s ‘traditional’ panel data (a sample size of 12,000 people taken from 5,100 homes in the UK) as its monetisation tool, has been awaiting change designed to be more reflective of the overall viewing behaviour in the UK. Given the digital age we live in, it is rather astonishing that it has taken this long – what is even more alarming is the fact that the multi-billion pound UK advertising industry has been based on such a small sample size when the UK population is reported to be 63,843,856*.

In 2014, BARB reported that only two per cent of all viewing was online, but this has changed over the last couple of years with the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets. As more and more people have migrated to viewing live and on-demand content across multiple devices, it has never been more crucial to the industry that Project Dovetail is implemented so that TV viewing measurement will be representative of the TV viewing population. A Thinkbox report reveals how technology has been the catalyst in the change of viewing habits, with people moving out of the living room, to watch TV in the kitchen, bedroom and even the bathroom. This shift in behaviour has meant that people can and do now watch TV when and where they like, in and out of the home.

A seismic shift in the industry is well underway and the channels themselves are already wondering – who will be the ‘winners and losers’? It’s not just the advertisers that will benefit through more efficient targeting. At TVPlayer, we produce a monthly shows report, which shows the top 20 programmes viewed on the platform within that month, as well as a top ten shows for PSB and non-PSB channels. Whilst event-based viewing such as The World Cup and top rating shows Big Brother are consistent with those reports from BARB, TVPlayer reporting has shown a great popularity in shows from non-PSB channels, such as Colors (Meri Asshiqui Tum Se Hi), Dave (Storage Hunters) and Food Network (Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). There will be great anticipation from broadcasters who will want to understand how overall show ratings will be impacted by the introduction of Project Dovetail, and the integration of device viewing into their overall BARB reports. For the first time, broadcasters will be able to understand who is watching their content, for how long, on what device and where they are in the country.

Project Dovetail will also have a great impact on the advertising world. To date, the measurement of ratings has meant the industry is focused on 30” spots, which translates into impacts, and converts into revenue for broadcasters. If I were a brand custodian trying to navigate its product through to its intended audience, I would be very excited at the prospect of knowing that for the first time, I will be able to make my above the line campaign budget go that much further with minimal wastage – even if paying a premium is required.

Project Dovetail will allow advertising agencies to showcase their potential and current clients the additional reach of broadcast advertising, as their adverts are viewed across multiple devices and not just the traditional TV set. These additional eyeballs will mean that advertisers can potentially charge more for their campaigns, as the integration of ratings from devices gives these platforms increased reach. Currently all OTT and TV viewing devices are seen as standalone ‘digital marketing’ platforms. Broadcast and digital teams within agencies have worked quite separately – despite what they may all say; with digital inventory often being offered as part of the 30” sponsorship/advertising/spot buy mix. With advertising agencies being able to prove their increased reach, digital teams will also be able to weave in advertising and sponsorship around both linear and on-demand platforms.

Marketing departments and agencies alike are looking outside the current broadcast model for advertising opportunities. Budgets are focused on TV in its traditional form, but have increasingly started to spread across mobile, web and OTT TV services, which offer more accountability. With the need for marketing campaigns to be ROI focussed, the analytics which digital advertising offers are a useful tool. Advertising on OTT services also means that campaigns will need to work in different formats, which must be tailored for mobile and web (five to ten seconds long). Marketing and creative departments will increasingly need to look past the 30” format to creatively work to deliver and engage their audiences across a variety of platforms. Failing to cater for a multiscreen campaign could easily result in negative brand connotations – do it right and brand loyalty can be easier to attain.

Project Dovetail is crucial to BARB’s survival in an industry, one which is being increasingly disrupted by the emergence of new devices and OTT platforms. Project Dovetail will ensure BARB can deliver the most honest representative of the current UK TV viewing population to date. This will provide us with deepest understanding yet as to who the real winners and losers in the broadcast space are.

By Dan Finch, commercial director, TVPlayer