Knowing Me, Knowing You

It is a truth universally acknowledged that knowledge is power. But perhaps it is not so much what you know but rather how you make use of that knowledge that identifies the big players. The beating heart of the media industry is a persistent search for bigger and better data, hence new ways to accumulate and analyse quality information is always a welcome investment.

Digital advertising spoils us with its granular levels of facts and figures, enabling targeted ad serving to specific individuals and providing a constant stream of feedback that can be compiled into an ever-so-handy database. Consequently, it can seem nonsensical to throw money at, for example, a press campaign and have no decisive results data when the measurement of the impact an ad has on sales or brand engagement is a primary concern for most if not all advertisers.

It is unsurprising then that this reality has prompted those in the TV industry to explore ways to make their advertising (whose production and media costs total over £7bn) more tailored and trackable.

2014 saw the launch of Sky’s AdSmart, a platform which enables advertisers to serve different ads to separate households during the same programme, a development which has opened up an expensive medium to smaller businesses and tempted back those who had previously dropped TV from their multimedia campaigns. Based on a household panel of 500,000 (circa 10x larger than the current BARB panel) audiences can be targeted based on regional and lifestyle attributes, household composition and socio-demographics. Consequently, adverts are served in a more considered environment and are more likely to reach the intended consumer; however, credible measurement of advert impact on consumer actions remains primarily speculative.

Enter ‘Project Dovetail’, brainchild of BARB, a work inprogress which aims to build a hybrid measurement system across all TV engagement by combining BARB panel data with device based data. As live viewing on television sets continues to decline this initiative proposes a clever solution to less knowable multi-device engagement, placing meta-data tags on internet streamed content  – giving us information of what people are watching and for how long – and considering it alongside traditional panel feedback which tells us who is watching.

Dovetail is due to go live in 2016 and signifies the acceleration of the data revolution – the growing ability to watch, track and analyse the activities of the global community. Like I said, knowledge is power but if the real test is in the way that it is used are we going to like the outcome?

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