Short-sighted BARB missing an opportunity

The BARB consultation process is a great idea. It is a time for stepping back and looking at the communications environment we live in, at the new challenges we face and at how television and its viewers are likely to evolve. So it was quite a shock to read Jim Marshall’s comment that BARB should continue to restrict itself to “measure TV viewing in the home, for each member and all members of the home” (MW June 9).

It was equally sad to hear Bjarne Thelin specifically rule out looking at the measurement of other media within BARB’s remit.

At a time when we are effectively brainstorming, should all possibilities not be investigated with equal thoroughness?

We are moving to a time of fractional ratings. In the US, buyers already trade at the second decimal point. Will we be doing that soon? PVRs and video games are going to become mainstream, not fodder for academic debate. Perhaps most important of all, people do not want to take part in surveys. How many of the people targeted by BARB refuse or fail to be recruited to its panel? Is it eight out of ten or nine out of ten? Can the ten per cent or 20 per cent of people who do agree to take part be truly representative of the viewing population? Nobody is asking.

But this is exactly what we should all be doing today. TV, like radio, the internet, outdoor and even cinema, is inexorably converging on large-scale, passive measurement. Never mind whether it takes the form of a watch, a pager or something else, all these media need large numbers of people to carry some sort of electronic tracking device. So why can they not join together and save a little money?

Marketers need to look at all media holistically. And it is they who pay the bills at the end of the day, not the media and not the agencies. We need to move forward, not remain in a time warp.

Andrew Green

Director of strategic resources

Zenith Optimedia

London W2

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