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Barb now measures SVOD and social video – here’s what it means for advertisers

Barb overhauls its TV audience measurement, adding SVOD and video-sharing platforms

Barb has begun measuring reach and time spent on video-sharing platforms and SVODs as part of a major measurement overhaul. It’s a step into the future for the auditors of TV viewerships.

From November 30, advertisers can see the total viewing time spent on each of the major video services and identify patterns of ad viewing on the notorious data-shy platforms.

Through router meter data collection, the Barb panel is now able to track views on the likes of TikTok, Twitch and YouTube, as well as SVODs such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, regardless of whether the platforms are Barb subscribers.

The changes will also enable agencies to create dynamic audiences specific to the VOD services, which can tell agencies where those audiences can be reached on commercial and linear channels.

Barb’s update also adds SVOD audience profile to its reporting by using Kantar’s SVOD measurement system, circumventing the streamers that are not subscribers to Barb.

Unlike the recent upgrade to US measurer Nielsen, Barb’s new system won’t directly measure individual ads.

As a result of the changes Barb has updated its definition of total TV viewing to ‘total identified viewing,’ which looks at time spent on linear broadcast channels and BVOD, time spent on SVOD and AVOD viewing, and time spent on video-sharing sites.

Viewing on video-sharing sites and SVOD will now become part of Barb’s daily reporting, and from January 2022 Barb will publish a monthly breakdown of total identified viewing with archive reports and trend data.

Justin Sampson, Barb’s chief executive, said: “It’s great news for the television and advertising industry that we’re upgrading our always-on measurement service to include SVOD and video-sharing platforms.

“For the first time, there is audience measurement for these services that bears all the hallmarks of a joint-industry currency: independence, objectivity and transparency.”

While tech insight firm Digital i welcomed the launch of Barb’s system and called the move “an important step for the UK media industry,” Tim Sleath, vice-president of product management and data protection officer at adtech firm VDX.tv, questioned if the changes go far enough.

He asked: “Is it enough to keep Barb relevant, especially if the longevity of this upgrade may be limited if companies like Netflix aren’t bought into it?

“If the streaming services haven’t fully opted into this initiative (and its somewhat clever technique by Kantar), I worry there may be future licensing arguments over the viewership data Barb puts out.”

How it works

  • Over the past 18 months, Kantar has installed meters on wifi routers in Barb panel homes, which will collect the aggregate data on SVOD and video-sharing sites.

  • The router meters work by measuring the internet traffic from all devices in broadband homes to the Barb-defined video sites.

  • Router meters also collect data from other devices and can access demo information on smartphone viewing.

  • To report SVOD ratings Barb uses an audio-matching measurement solution that works by matching audio signatures taken from TV sets with a reference database. This method is only available on TV sets.

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