With consumption patterns shifting across platforms globally, audience measurement systems are also witnessing an evolution where the rules of measurement are being re-written. Kantar Media, a global player in providing data and insights, has also deployed new techniques and metering technologies to create capabilities to measure viewing across devices. In conversation with BrandWagon’s Chandni Mathur, Kantar Media’s Nick Burfitt at the recently concluded ZEE MELT event to understand how the company is working on improving the quality of measurement as the TV landscape evolves. Edited excerpts:
How is the viewing landscape changing across markets?
Today, there is fragmentation across time, place, channels and devices with people having access to content in different ways. However, that ability does not necessarily translate into a wholesale shift right now. Data from the US and the UK shows that there is still a large amount of viewing taking place on traditional TV sets. 92% of all viewing still takes place on a TV set, as per data from the US, even among the younger demographic. Although viewing behaviour is changing, the traditional way of accessing content is still very resilient; so is TV advertising and there has been no decrease. Total TV viewing is pretty stable.
Globally, the average is around three hours per person per day, and we are not seeing TV viewing in totality falling off a cliff. If anyone says TV is dead, they are wrong. But fragmentation is happening.
With digital consumption gaining ground, do you see it overtaking TV soon in some markets?
Digital will not overtake TV. There is a lot of talk around digital viewing and it is growing, but is it eating significantly into TV viewing? The answer is, no. There has been a great rise in the number of OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and even in India with the likes of VOOT, etc, and they are gaining subscribers. Although it’s still early days, such services tend to be more additive than cannibalistic to TV viewing.
Are you seeing a growing need for a robust digital measurement system? How is Kantar Media addressing it?
A robust, stable, trusted cross-channel measurement system is desirable. We have just published a blueprint for TV measurement called ‘TV to TV’ which means from television to total video. We have already rolled it in the Netherlands and Denmark, and are about to do it in Norway and Hong Kong.
What tools/solutions are you deploying to ensure effective audience measurement for digital?
We have just developed and deployed a new meter that attaches to broadband wifi routers in homes and can track the content that passes through that router. So if you are viewing IP-delivered content, the meter will identify that content and track it. We also have an app/software called Virtual Meter that can be deployed on smartphones, tablets, etc to measure viewing and sampling. From a technology standpoint, we are making quite a lot of inroads into measuring digital viewing. But the availability of digital data sets along with the data that is traditionally being captured by the people-meter technology also brings with it a need for much greater data science capability. So a large part of our investment is towards bringing in data scientists and statisticians to combine and create a much more robust, and valuable data set for the industry to use. We are getting the technology to Norway and we have just won the contract with our JV partner in Hong Kong to set up the new TV rating service there. We will also test it in the UK and Switzerland. In India, we are talking to BARC about our capabilities but ultimately it’s for BARC to decide.
With the ushering in of BARC, how has Kantar’s role evolved in measuring what India watches?
We are technology partners with BARC; we have many such partnerships around the world and are very supportive of it being the new principle of audience measurement. We think the idea of industry stakeholders coming together in an organisation such as BARC works well for the industry. We provide watermarking technologies to BARC, which is embedded in the broadcast signal and meters that it uses to pick up the viewing. We are also engaged with BARC on how we might help it move forward from core TV measurement. We still have a shareholding in TAM India but it now only provides ad and broadcast monitoring services. In most countries, there is only one system and it should be so in India too.
Is your Return Path Data (RPD) technology still deployed in India with Tata Sky? How have such insights helped you stay at the forefront of the pay TV business in India?
The RPD service that we run around the world is run in India with Tata Sky. It was set up five years ago. The good thing about RPD is passive data. There are no meters installed and people watch TV as they normally would, allowing you to get a large sample size, drill down into the data, and map that data to the subscriber base. They are able to look at viewing data by their subscription packages, premium packages, core subscribers, etc, and use it for subscriber management and marketing, carriage negotiations, content acquisition strategies, ad sales, revenue generation from platforms and more. It’s certainly a business that we are very invested in.
Could you share some insights on consumption on other mediums?
A Dimension survey we just published surveyed connected adults; and it shows that even people defined as connected are still using tried and tested formats to engage with mediums, and to receive advertising. Print readership is actually sustaining itself. In some markets there is evidence that print is suffering through the shift to digital and loss of advertising revenue in print publications is not being replaced by advertising agencies or properties.
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Please throw some light on the Twitter TV ratings and Kantar’s plans ahead…
Twitter TV ratings were launched two to three years ago in the UK and Spain, and it has now rolled out in about four to five other markets including Latin America and the Philippines. It is a service that allows us to track Twitter hours around TV content. It adds colour to the TV data, providing slightly more qualitative elements and allows our clients, broadcasters and media agencies to gain a qualitative measure on how well a show might be doing on Twitter. We are also looking at bringing data from other social media platforms and over time it will evolve into Social TV ratings.