Audience numbers set to rise with new BARB

The new Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) television measurement service could produce results that show a higher level of TV viewing.

Testing of a parallel panel under a new system, which was carried out over four weeks, found overall viewing of BARB-reported channels was about 4% higher than with the existing BARB panel.

The new panel, which launches in January, is designed to be more representative of UK households and includes better ethnic profiles and improved representation of multiplatform homes, as well as metropolitan, urban and rural populations.

However, one media agency executive says higher viewing figures are of no help unless they encourage clients to invest more money in TV advertising. At present, higher viewing and the increase in associated impacts just means cheaper airtime and clients keeping the savings or switching them to other media.

Media Planning agency head of broadcast Jim McDonald says: “We have to believe the new panel is going to be more representative of the population and therefore should be more accurate.”

Andrew Canter, chief executive of branded content specialist Contentworx, says a panel changeover is a good opportunity for an agency to tap into the knowledge of the departing panel. “This strategy was pioneered by Young & Rubicam the last time the BARB panel changed, with some fascinating results.”

BARB chief executive Bjarne Thelin says the service continually evolves and already includes the ability to monitor devices for on-demand playback, including games consoles, PCs and set-top boxes. Specific PC and laptop viewing solutions continue to be evaluated and a test panel could soon be created.

In 2010, BARB will be reporting on about 300 itemised channels that broadcasters have requested. All other channels are grouped together with their viewing combined and reported as “other viewing”.

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