Measuring media ratings is a complex issue. An independent survey can be the tool for the growth of the Industry and the turnover related to it.
Unfortunately, in Italy we are far from a situation of this kind. Audiweb was the subject of a heavy AGCOM resolution in July 2019, for the methodology that provided for the passage of reader data to Facebook: the Nielsen / Facebook divorce interrupted this procedure, without however leaving room for a new methodology approved by the Authority and Audiweb has not provided data to the market since last January (but rumors anticipate that next week, Audiweb could release the data for February and March in a single solution, in an attempt to recover some lost time).
Last month the Audiweb – Audipress “cold fusion” failed, with the consequent announcement by the paper publishers of the desire to equip themselves with a digital measurement; something that television publishers have already acquired for some years through Auditel.
A very volatile situation, different from what happens in the UK where BARB has just announced the results of a call for tenders for the selection of a unified video measurement methodology that includes all the players operating in this sector, including the large entertainment platforms.
BARB is the JIC of the UK TV audience. That is, it is the person responsible (JIC = Joint Industry Committee) for setting up the methodology for measuring the behavior of the television audience. And to do so, it assigns third-party research companies to collect the data that must represent the viewing behavior of 28 million TV and broadband users. Its role is obscure but decisive, as every year 7.5 billion pounds are invested in the production and distribution of commercial programs and content, oriented and accounted for thanks to the data analyzed by the JIC.
Commenting from London for Adnkronos on new developments in the UK is Stuart Wilkinson, Kantar’s International Digital Business Development Director. Wilkinson is responsible for cross-media business development in Kantar’s Media Audience team, which is the team that provides linear and digital media measurement services and technology to national media currency organizations, i.e. JICs in various countries.
1. How important is it to be able to rely on solid, reliable and independent measurement in the growing economy of the media industry? That is, how important is the work of a JIC for business development?
My first answer is purely commercial. The JIC measurements support advertising planning and represent the official reference data (“the currency”) of the media audience. Space sellers, digital broadcasters and publishers, advertisers and a range of intermediaries such as dealerships and media agencies use this data to plan, sell and market advertising.
Secondly, beyond this pure commercial aspect, JIC data today has become more important than ever due to digital evolution and the complex fragmentation of channels. JIC measurements are evolving to adapt to an ever-changing environment and maintain their purpose, which is to be reference data on which to plan investment strategies and content distribution.
In the analog era, the system was relatively predictable.
Catch up TV, Digital Video on Demand (VOD) services and the most disruptive mobile-first offerings of social media have turned the model upside down. Now the consumer is in charge and the channels compete for his attention, 24/7, across multiple screens.
The strategy now is to provide optimal access to content, which offers the possibility for each consumer to choose the time and place they deem most appropriate.
This has created the need for new and more sophisticated independent research that allows for measuring and evaluating audience behavior in a truly multi-platform and multi-channel environment. A multidimensional research is required, which goes beyond the coverage and frequency of the TV seen in the living room, to be able to include the contents of the four screens (TV, computer, tablet, mobile phone), broadcast live in linear mode, or via digital simulcast o services on demand, with paid or free access or through a paid or ad-supported streaming service.
Finally, we need to consider the social and cultural needs met by JICs. JICs are a European phenomenon in the global media industry, accompanied by other excellent international examples such as Canada. In Europe the importance we culturally place in ensuring a plurality of content to inform, entertain and educate, while addressing all segments of our society is a requirement of the broadcast licensing process. Furthermore, public broadcasters such as RAI or the BBC have a specific duty to ensure that the content they invest in and distribute complies with legal commitments. The data from independent and recognized research in the market that provide proof of their “impact” on the public are exactly those released by the JIC.