Conference Archive

We have been organising highly-respected conferences for advertisers, broadcasters and agencies since 1991.

Our most recent events are listed below. We retain the presentations from these conferences, together with audio files of panel sessions. The programmes for these conferences are available to view.

Click on the relevant conference for more information:

 

2016 Conferences

  • 2016 International Radio & Audio Conference

    2nd November 2016, Budapest, Hungary

    On the face of it, audio remains in rude health, an attractive proposition for listeners and advertisers alike. However, the long-term future of radio and other forms of audio is very much in the hands of millennials, that key group born between about 1980 and 2000. Their radio listening levels are declining. To a certain extent this is being offset by the continued loyalty of older groups. So the key question has to be: will millennials become increasingly dependent on radio as they get older or will they take their current profile of audio consumption with them into later life? Will they differentiate between radio and other forms of audio in the way past generations have done?

    Either way, it is clear that radio is now very much part of a wider thriving audio landscape and is increasingly as much a digital medium as the new streaming and on demand services. So, what is the optimum approach to measuring radio and audio across digital platforms and in this wider context? This year, a number of presentations look at audio in this broader playing field, with implications not just for the listener but also the trading of audio itself.

  • 2016 International Television & Video Conference

    2nd-4th November, Budapest, Hungary

    Global sporting events like this year’s Rio Olympics serve not only to bring the world together in troubling times, but also act as a useful insight into the evolving shape of TV consumption itself. Cross-media cross-platform events also push the current capabilities of audience measurement systems to their limit. At this year’s conference we look to the future of television and video and examine how the industry can keep up the pace in the measurement marathon.

    The production of high quality TV content is at a global high as broadcasters, expanding the global reach of their hit series and formats, compete with SVOD services keen to join the party. We examine the trends in content production and discuss the future prospects for content distribution channels.

    It’s clear that video is a highly attractive and effective medium for advertising and we hear about a number of innovations in advertising technology. However, we also remind ourselves that, in the rush to examine sales impact, the longer-term effects of advertising are critical.

    Meanwhile, if we are living in a ‘golden age’ of TV content, what category of medal can we award television measurement itself?  There does now seem to be a clear consensus around the way forward, with hybrid approaches in development or at the commissioning stage in many countries. The main debates are now focusing on exactly how to apply the measurement science and the precise components.

    What building blocks are needed to build cross-platform measurement across connected devices? Census data is obviously a crucial component, but it is less clear how accessible that data will be, particularly data from social media platforms. In a key panel discussion, we examine the prospects for industry collaboration between ‘traditional’ television and new media: whose data is it anyway?

  • 2016 Tony Twyman Award

    4th November, Budapest, Hungary

    For some years now, the asi Television Conference has featured the Tony Twyman Award for best paper. The 2016 Award was won by Nathalie Sonck of SKO and Liesbeth Nekkers of GfK for their presentation Solving the Viewing Puzzle – Assessing Reach of SVOD content on the Big Screen.

    The Tony Twyman Award is generously sponsored by

    rsmb-logoedit copy

    Tony Twyman (1932-2014) worked within the media research industry for many years, most recently before he retired operating a consultancy service in media, communications and social research. Tony gained degrees in mathematics and psychology from Cambridge and London Universities and taught experimental psychology at London. During his career he was the Technical Director of BARB and consulted on a number of television industry contracts around the world. He was technical consultant to the independent radio companies for RAJAR. Other consultancies included JICMARS (medical readership). He was formerly a joint managing director of RBL (Research International – London).

    Tony was a highly-respected authority in audience measurement worldwide. He chaired the asi European Radio Conference and the research session of the asi European Television Conference for many years and was a much-valued adviser and friend.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the award-winning paper

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  • 2016 APAC Television & Video Conference

    12th-13th May, Singapore

    RATINGS LEGO: A REPORT FROM THE SECOND asi APAC TELEVISION & VIDEO CONFERENCE IN SINGAPORE

    By Richard Marks, Research Director, asi.

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    In the past the research industry in the region may have looked primarily to the west, but the second asi APAC Television & Video Conference confirmed that, with the dizzying pace of technology adoption in the region, the exchange of information is now much more of a two-way discussion.

    The APAC region is projected to account for two-thirds of the world’s affluent middle class by 2030, so understanding exactly how video is being used in the region, and how that changes over time will be vital for the global future of broadcasters and online players.

    Measurement has never been a dry topic and, with the explosion of new services and platforms, it has never been more vital. Reliable measurement is essential to allow video services to be monetised – to attract advertising and help understand what content drives subscription to OTT services.

    The event was held in Singapore and sponsored by GFK and Nielsen with the support of CASBAA. The focus was on TV measurement in the APAC region but also at a global level, so worked as a useful ‘health check’ on the state of TV and video measurement around the world.

    A major theme was the increasing globalisation of content and formats.

    Eurodata Worldwide presented global trends in content viewing, showing the increasing demand for drama as a genre and the rise of new formats – 900 new TV shows were launched in Asia in 2015. In the so-called ‘Platinum Age’ of television there is a global demand for new content and formats. At a global level the top exporters of TV in 2016 were US and UK, but French (3rd) and Turkish (5th) programming and formats are also on the rise.

    Parrot Analytics went beyond TV viewing in a paper presented with the BBC to look at how the global demand for programming can be measured by looking at the ‘ocean’ of social media and online activity around content.

    We heard that in January 2016 Sherlock was the most in-demand programme in China and social buzz identified an untapped market for Doctor Who in Korea. So the future may be about evaluating ‘share of mind’ as well as counting eyeballs.

    Looking specifically at online video, we saw data from Korea that claimed that ad recall and impact was higher for VOD than linear advertising, whilst Facebook examined what makes ‘thumb-stopping’ online video and in particular the importance of the first few seconds of a video to capture interest and brand awareness.

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    Google’s Georges Mao, Director of Market Insights APAC, outlines the company’s strategy for brand measurement.

    Google outlined its strategy for brand measurement, which seems to indicate a higher willingness to collaborate with industry measurement services, whilst building its own data systems to sit alongside.

    Meanwhile a fascinating paper looked at Australian TV data to demonstrate that classifying a segment of the population as ‘light viewers’ can be misleading – light viewers can be heavy on some days and when their online and non-linear viewing is added in many cease to be ‘light viewers’ at all.

    So filling the ‘holes’ in measurement is essential, and was another key theme of the conference. The event underlined the rise of hybrid measurement, but also reflected an understanding that ‘one size does not fit all’.

    There are a number of hybrid TV and video measurement systems in development around the world: everyone seems to be playing ratings ‘lego’. Nearly all the systems under development that we heard about at the conference are effectively ‘hybrid’ systems – integrating TV panels, online panels and census (or server) data to build TV measurement across platforms and screens. (Click here for the review of these systems I presented at the conference – click here for the audio.)

    In that context BARB is using a broad approach that is being introduced in a number of countries, which should be reassuring to us in the UK. However the methodologies being used do vary and the pace of progress in implementation varies even more.

    Nielsen’s system in the US looks the closest to completion, with broadcasters currently trialling data from a hybrid panel that combines TV meters online panels and demographic data from Facebook.

    Meanwhile the systems in Netherlands and Sweden are well advanced and may actually prove more of a template for measurement in the APAC region – and around the world – than the US and UK systems.

    Although people still lament that the BARB panel is ‘only’ 5,000 homes, in global terms this does place it as something of an outlier. Most countries typically have TV panels of 800-2,000 homes. As a result these are not proving large enough to provide an estimate of online viewing and that data will need to be sourced from separate internet panels, which is the model that the Dutch and Swedish systems are following. Also both are at a more advanced stage of development than the UK.

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    Romil Ramgarhia, Chief Business Officer of BARC India, indicated to conference the collaborative approach BARC is adopting.

    BARC in India is in the process of awarding contracts for digital video measurement in an ambitious system that will encompass all forms of online video and advertising, not just broadcast-related, to go live next year. Meanwhile new television measurement systems are under construction in Thailand and Singapore.

    Nonetheless, as of writing, not one country in the region or indeed anywhere in the world can claim to be conducting currency measurement of all broadcast and online video content and advertising across all platforms and devices. We are tantalisingly close though.

    It is also significant that these services describe themselves as ‘video’ rather than just ‘TV’ measurement systems. For these hybrid systems to evolve, collaboration is needed. In particular television companies are going to have to be less defensive and resistant to the involvement of the major digital players – access to their datasets will be increasingly important for the hybrid systems to work. Will BARB ever be able to adequately measure all video content in the UK without the active involvement of Facebook and Google?

    There was some debate in the various panel sessions about what the optimum organisational models for measuring video actually were. There seems to be a general consensus that the JIC (Joint Industry Committee) model is the best means for building an open system and engaging with stakeholders. However, can decision-making by ‘committee’ act as a handbrake on rapid change and innovation? Again, are broadcasters doing enough to reach out to new media companies like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix?

    The asi APAC conference demonstrated that the barriers between the worlds of broadcast and video are coming down. For younger consumers the genealogy of a media brand is largely irrelevant: it’s what they do now that matters and APAC is a particularly young region in terms of its age profile.

    In some regards a trip to Asia is a trip into the future of media consumption, a future in which mobile plays an increasing role, with an even playing field for all forms of video.

    The conference was generously sponsored by GfK and Nielsen, and was supported by CASBAA.

    asi will be back in Singapore next year on 11th-12th May 2017 but in the meantime returns to Europe later this year for the three day International Radio Conference on 2nd November, and the International Television & Video Conference on 2nd-3rd November in Budapest, Hungary.

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2015 Conferences

  • 2015 asi European Radio Conference

    4th November 2015, Venice, Italy

    Delegates who attended the 2015 asi European Radio Conference will have been sent a link by email to access the presentations via Dropbox.

    If, as a delegate, you have not received the link, please send us an email or call +44 (0)1822 618 628.

  • 2015 asi European Television Conference

    4th-6th November 2015, Venice, Italy

    Delegates who attended the 2015 asi European Television Conference will have received a link to access the presentations via Dropbox.

    If, as a delegate, you have not received the link, please send us an email or call +44 (0)1822 618 628.

  • 2015 Tony Twyman Award

    6th November 2015

    For some years now, the asi Television Conference has featured the Tony Twyman Award for best paper. The 2015 Award was won by Nielsen’s Megan Clarken, who gave a comprehensive account of the introduction of Nielsen Total Audience Measurement to continue to improve the US TAM service: Unduplicated ratings across all screens, platforms and distribution models

    The Tony Twyman Award is generously sponsored by

    rsmb-logoedit copy

    Tony Twyman (1932-2014) worked within the media research industry for many years, most recently before he retired operating a consultancy service in media, communications and social research. Tony gained degrees in mathematics and psychology from Cambridge and London Universities and taught experimental psychology at London. During his career he was the Technical Director of BARB and consulted on a number of television industry contracts around the world. He was technical consultant to the independent radio companies for RAJAR. Other consultancies included JICMARS (medical readership). He was formerly a joint managing director of RBL (Research International – London).

    Tony was a highly-respected authority in audience measurement worldwide. He chaired the asi European Radio Conference and the research session of the asi European Television Conference for many years and was a much-valued adviser and friend.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the award-winning paper

  • 2015 asi APAC Television Conference

    14th-15th May 2015, Singapore

    Summary by Richard Marks, Research Director, asi

    In Europe the asi conference has been a fixture in the TV measurement calendar for many years. However, this APAC event was new and in response to popular demand. Some clear themes emerged from the packed agenda and I will attempt to summarise them here.

    The main measurement players attended and spoke – indeed Kantar, Nielsen and comScore were joint sponsors. Significantly, whilst all claimed to be offering total solutions to TV measurement, all also indicated a willingness to collaborate, to work with the TV industry bodies around the world to build systems that may involve co-operation with other measurement companies. This is a significant development very much driven by market necessity.

    Until recently, BARB was something of an anomaly in blending multiple contractors – currently Kantar, IPSOS and RSMB – to provide the total service. However, many of the clients present at asi APAC discussed their plans for – or deployment of – multi-contractor systems. MMS in Sweden, guest speakers at the event, and BARC in India (the new Joint Industry Committee for TV measurement) are building multi-contractor systems, cherry-picking items from the TAM suppliers as well as related technology companies to build a la carte systems as opposed to the fixed menus that the TAM suppliers would probably prefer.

    The new Indian TAM systems involved over twenty partners and in Singapore itself the Media Development Authority – described as Ofcom fused with the BFI – is in the process of a tender to develop a new TV measurement service and in a closing address to the conference Kenneth Tan (recorded by a TV news crew for the evening news bulletin) teased that an announcement was imminent and the contract would be awarded to “one…or more!” of the agencies in the room.

    So just as the future of TV measurement seems to lie in hybrid methodologies it may also involve a fusion of research and technology suppliers. When I was actively involved as a TAM supplier it was the norm for research agency sales pitches to feature global maps with countries lovingly coloured TNS pink, Nielsen blue or GFK orange depending on their TAM service. It would seem that more subtle shades of purple and jade will be needed for such maps in the future.

    Reflecting this trend, asi APAC was the first TV measurement event since the global partnership between comScore and Kantar was announced, with the latter taking around 20% in comScore stock and the announced objective to provide an integrated approach to measuring online and offline media.

    Both Kantar and comScore speakers trailed the first fruits of this alliance – ‘Total View’ at the event. So collaboration is the new normal, although it will make event organisers in the specific case of comScore and Kantar wonder whether it will be fair on their rivals to have separate papers from both suppliers if they are now joined at the hip.

    Another noticeable trend was the number of speakers who cited the help and assistance they had received from BARB in the UK. We tend to blithely say that BARB ‘sets the standard’ in TV measurement but this event certainly reinforced this as speakers queued up to pay tribute.

    Indeed, I was reminded of the numerous fact-finding trips made to Washington DC in the early 90s by new East European democracies looking to establish a constitution and learning about the American model. However, given the recent deadlock in the American body politic, let’s hope they eventually opted for something else. It is reassuring – from a UK perspective – to witness at first-hand the esteem in which our UK system is still held, even if the speed of progress may not be as fast as some critics would like.

    Many other topics were discussed. For example it was claimed that in India buying a second TV for the home was as much of a family revolution as announcing that a second kitchen was being installed – the family that watches together stays together.

    China too is having the debate about the relationship between social media and TV viewing, whilst there are a number of highly advanced Return Path Data systems in the region, including Astro in Malaysia, partly driven by frustration at small sample sizes for systems that have been developed to measure terrestrial TV.

    One paper on the incredible amount paid for Premier League Football in the region helped me understand exactly how Chelsea can afford to pay Eden Hazard £200k per week.

    However, my final theme is a more ‘existential one’: highlighted in this region, but of global relevance.

    At asi APAC there seemed to be universal approval of the joint industry approach to measurement, although not what to call that system. Whether JIC, JIB, MOC or even PPICNIC, the principle of jointly funded audience measurement was the same. However, there was far less accord on what those systems should actually be measuring.

    This article has used the term ‘television’ throughout, but there were strong arguments made from the stage that this term is too narrow – that we now live in the video measurement era – from TAM to VAM as one chart put it. I have argued in the past that there is some fundamental difference between quality ‘television’ and wider online video, but then I am over 50 and that differentiation was increasingly irrelevant according to many speakers.

    A number of countries in the region have populations with average ages of less than 30, so what broadcasters used to do in the past is of historic interest only, it’s what they do now that matters and the new competitive set does include Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Apple, whether broadcasters like it or not.

    So the question now is, should these companies be encouraged into the JIC system and how much longer can measurement be limited to a self-defined perimeter of what is – and isn’t TV? Last month the German JIC, AGF, announced that it would be measuring YouTube within the ‘TAM’ currency system and I suspect that will be the first of many.

    As MMS from Sweden have argued, it may be better to have the new entrants in the video market inside the tent (I won’t use the full metaphor) than to give the false impression of measuring a declining medium, constrained only by its self-imposed definition.

    Indeed yesterday in the States the Cable TV Advertising Bureau rebranded to become the Video Advertising Bureau. I wonder what odds you could get on BARB becoming VARB in the next five years

    I left the asi APAC event with a definite impression that whilst in the past researchers in the region may have looked to the West to guide development of measurement systems, the rapid pace of change in the region and the adoption of mobile in particular may make the exchange of information more balanced in the future, particularly when it comes to a more open appraisal of what is – and isn’t – television.

    Certainly the plan for asi is to ensure that the two annual events – in Europe and now in the APAC region – shape and inform each other. This November sees asi celebrate its 25th anniversary in Venice, swapping vertiginous skyscrapers for campaniles and canals. If you’d like to give us your view from the stage then do get in touch.

    The debate continues.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the conference programme

  • 2015 APAC Tony Twyman Award

    15th May 2015, Singapore

    The Tony Twyman Award for the conference paper that made ‘the best contribution to a greater understanding of the TV medium and its audiences’ has been presented at the asi European Television Conference since 2007. This first APAC Tony Twyman Award was won by Magnus Anshelm, CEO of MMS, for his paper: The MMS Road Map – Towards a Total Video Currency

    The 2015 APAC Tony Twyman Award was generously sponsored by

    Strategy_Group_Final

    Tony Twyman (1932-2014) worked within the media research industry for many years, most recently before he retired operating a consultancy service in media, communications and social research. Tony gained degrees in mathematics and psychology from Cambridge and London Universities and taught experimental psychology at London. During his career he was the Technical Director of BARB and consulted on a number of television industry contracts around the world. He was technical consultant to the independent radio companies for RAJAR. Other consultancies included JICMARS (medical readership). He was formerly a joint managing director of RBL (Research International – London).

    Tony was a highly-respected authority in audience measurement worldwide. He chaired the asi European Radio Conference and the research session of the asi European Television Conference for many years and was a much-valued adviser and friend.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the award-winning paper

2014 Conferences

  • 2014 asi European Radio Conference

    5th November 2014, Madrid, Spain

    Extract from piece by Richard Marks, Research Director, asi

    One clear theme, reflected in this year’s agenda, is that radio and TV face similar measurement challenges in terms of the need for cross-platform brand measurement and the challenges and opportunities of online data sets. To that end, a joint session titled ‘The Tools of the Trade’ saw panels of suppliers and clients compare notes on what they thought really matters. You can see a report on the session here.

    The radio day focused on the existential challenge of putting radio in the wider context of other audio services, particularly streaming. The RAB’s AudioNow project showed that radio remains strong, but as the Harkive initiative demonstrated, modern listeners “use a range of technologies, formats, and services, and bounce from one to another with incredible speed and dexterity.”

    A central point of debate for both TV and radio is whether the behaviour of 15-24 year olds – amongst whom both TV and radio are seeing more noticeable drops in usage – is a usage pattern that they will carry with them through their lives or something they will adapt as they get older.

    Using RAJAR data, IPSOS’s John Carroll pointed out that “By the age of 25 you’ve listened to 10% of the radio you’ll hear in your lifetime”. A lot is riding on whether this statement is true for both the radio and TV industries.

    What I do and like now as a 50 year old is very different to when I was 25, but if I were to tell a passing hoodie, “You have listened to 5% of all the Bruce Springsteen you’ll hear in your lifetime,” they might claim that free will overcomes pre-destination. Or they might hit me. Danish Radio’s Peter Niegel described this cohort as both Generation Z (Zero attention span) and Generation HD (heads down on mobile devices).

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the conference programme

  • 2014 asi European Television Conference

    5th-7th November 2014, Madrid, Spain

    Summary of the 2014 European Radio & Television Conferences by Richard Marks, Research Director, asi

    Last week the great and the good in audience measurement met for the 24th annual asi European Television and Radio Conferences in Madrid. The event is an important barometer for what’s pre-occupying the broadcast research industries.

    I’ve attended the event for a decade and earlier this year I came on board as research director for asi with an active involvement in getting this year’s event together and chairing sessions. In this column I’ll share the key take-outs from across the three days.

    One clear theme, reflected in the agenda, is that radio and TV face similar measurement challenges in terms of the need for cross-platform brand measurement and the challenges and opportunities of online data sets. To that end, a joint session titled ‘The Tools of the Trade’ saw panels of suppliers and clients compare notes on what they thought really matters.

    The radio day focused on the existential challenge of putting radio in the wider context of other audio services, particularly streaming. The RAB’s AudioNow project showed that radio remains strong, but as the Harkive initiative demonstrated, modern listeners “use a range of technologies, formats, and services, and bounce from one to another with incredible speed and dexterity.”

    A central point of debate for both TV and radio is whether the behaviour of 15-24 year olds – amongst whom both TV and radio are seeing more noticeable drops in usage – is a usage pattern that they will carry with them through their lives or something they will adapt as they get older.

    Using RAJAR data, IPSOS’s John Carroll pointed out that “By the age of 25 you’ve listened to 10% of the radio you’ll hear in your lifetime”. A lot is riding on whether this statement is true for both the radio and TV industries.

    What I do and like now as a 50 year old is very different to when I was 25, but if I were to tell a passing hoodie, “You have listened to 5% of all the Bruce Springsteen you’ll hear in your lifetime,” they might claim that free will overcomes pre-destination. Or they might hit me. Danish Radio’s Peter Niegel described this cohort as both Generation Z (Zero attention span) and Generation HD (heads down on mobile devices).

    For TV, it really does seem that a consensus has emerged around hybrid measurement – combining survey research with server data to get the best of both worlds. The ‘F’ word – fusion – was everywhere this year.

    At last year’s asi I used the metaphor of Schroedinger’s Cat to crystallise some of my concerns about hybrid measurement – that transparency will recede and we may become increasingly dependent on the statisticians, who guard the black boxes that bring the data together, to tell us whether the measurement cat is alive or dead.

    This asi conference did go some way to allaying some of the concerns. When I asked the global measurement companies directly whether intellectual property issues would inhibit the transparency of their services, they seemed almost insulted at the idea and described a harmonious world of openness with clients and talked about glass boxes as opposed to black boxes. This is important as Tanja Hackenbruch of Swiss Broadcaster SBC called for the establishment of an open ‘data culture’ to help clients understand the plethora of data sets available.

    Two nagging questions remain – if we had a blank slate, is this really what we would do? And is anyone doing hybrid successfully yet?

    With regard to the second point, it seems we have a big year coming up. In Holland the VIM (Video Integration Model) is underway, whilst BARB have commissioned two measurement companies to take place in a ‘Great British Fuse Off’ to develop an integration model for Project Dovetail. We are getting tantalisingly close to knowing whether the hybrid theories will work in practice.

    Dissenting views or proponents of single source solutions were hard to find, although there were some fascinating early insights from the Google/Médiamétrie single source panel in France. Early days, but the French data hinted that the incidence of dual screening may be overstated. From that survey, in an average day, 16.4% of panel members did watch TV and use the Internet simultaneously, but only for six minutes.

    Continuing the theme of surprisingly low numbers, BARB shared early data from the growing number of BARB homes (currently over 1,000) that have PC viewing metered as well as TV. 10% watch TV content on PCs in an average week and if they do watch it’s about 25 minutes a week – so that adds less than 1% to total viewing. OK, this doesn’t include tablets or mobiles, but even if we look at BBC iStats the thought occurs that this seems an awful lot of effort to measure not very much.

    Toby Syfret of Enders Analysis projected that still 77% of all viewing in 2020 will be live viewing on TV sets. Perhaps online video has now found its natural level. Clearly usage will be heavily skewed to young adults, but it does raise the issue of exactly what is ‘television’.

    Verto Analytics clearly envisage a wider video world in which we can advertise in and measure Angry Birds and Grand Theft Auto, whilst a number of speakers showed ethnographic research about the central and addictive role of smartphones in people’s lives.

    So the thought occurs: if we can break the measurement challenge of gathering video and audio usage from these devices, do we just limit ourselves to linear or recently broadcast content, or measure the wider world of all content?

    Some existential angst lies ahead. According to data shown by Facebook, 40% of us now sometimes start an activity on one device and finish it on another, amplifying the need for true cross-platform reach data.

    The barriers between platforms and media are coming down, which was reflected in a stand-out paper from Bas De Vos of SKO in the Netherlands. The existing TV, radio, print and online currencies have taken a highly logical step – to stay separate but fund all new online research jointly to avoid duplication of effort.

    So instead of different industry bodies attempting to get on your tablet or smartphone they go in as one and share the data back out afterwards. To foster co-operation the JICs in Holland have literally moved into the same ‘Media House’.

    This is the country that gave us Big Brother so perhaps a reality show is in the offing. I have always found the idea of a ‘Super JIC’ measuring all media unlikely, both politically and operationally, but this Dutch model does seem the next logical step. I wonder what leasehold agreements BARB, RAJAR and NRS all have.

    The Tony Twyman Award

    Since his retirement, the asi Television Conference has featured the Tony Twyman Award for best paper, but the award took on a new meaning this year, with the news of Tony’s recent passing overshadowing the conference. The 2014 Award was won by the BBC’s Margo Swadley, with a paper that focused on how viewers make the choices they do and navigate their way through the world of EPG, VOD and PVR.

    Tony Twyman had a very well developed bullshit detector, so it seemed fitting that our keynote was delivered by Bob Hoffman aka ‘the Ad Contrarian‘, who in 30 minutes eviscerated the online advertising industry armed only with his trusty sword of expletives. As @bakelwarden put it on Twitter: “Bob Hoffman’s spot-on take on the ad industry just passed the sh*t-wordcount of an average Breaking Bad episode. Go Ad-Heisenberg!”

    For non Breaking Bad fans, Heisenberg is the alter ego of Walter White in the show, which is appropriate. As I pointed out at the event, I am left wondering whether the Heisenberg Principle may apply to audience measurement. The German physicist stated that there is “…a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle known as complementary variables… can be known simultaneously.”

    In audience measurement our ‘complementary variables’ are people and devices. Will a hybrid future allow us to accurately observe both? Stay tuned for future developments.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the conference programme

  • 2014 Tony Twyman Award

    7th November 2014, Madrid, Spain

    Since his retirement, the asi TV conference has featured the Tony Twyman Award for best paper, but the award took on a new meaning this year, with the news of Tony’s recent passing overshadowing the conference. The 2014 Award was won by the BBC’s Margo Swadley, with a paper that focused on how viewers make the choices they do and navigate their way through the world of EPG, VOD and PVR: The Future of TV (and how we measure it)

    The Tony Twyman Award is generously sponsored by

    rsmb-logoedit copy

    Tony Twyman (1932-2014) worked within the media research industry for many years, most recently before he retired operating a consultancy service in media, communications and social research. Tony gained degrees in mathematics and psychology from Cambridge and London Universities and taught experimental psychology at London. During his career he was the Technical Director of BARB and consulted on a number of television industry contracts around the world. He was technical consultant to the independent radio companies for RAJAR. Other consultancies included JICMARS (medical readership). He was formerly a joint managing director of RBL (Research International – London).

    Tony was a highly-respected authority in audience measurement worldwide. He chaired the asi European Radio Conference and the research session of the asi European Television Conference for many years and was a much-valued adviser and friend.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the award-winning paper

2013 Conferences

  • 2013 asi European Radio Conference

    6th November 2013, Venice, Italy

    Not very long ago people listened to radio on radio sets. Today, the use of traditional radio receivers is in decline as radio’s symbiotic nature has made it possible to listen on PCs, phones, tablets and TVs; however, this proliferation of non-primary purpose devices means that radio is constantly in competition with other media and applications – not just TV and video clips, but all kinds of audio services, some radio, some not radio, and some that are somewhere in between. The conference heard from original research taking a snapshot of what we listen to, who we listen with and what we do while we’re listening against a backdrop of how, where and when we listen, to provide an insight into how radio survives in a landscape where competition for attention and time has never been more fierce.

    In many markets there has been concern at the dropping off of certain audiences – especially younger audiences. In 2012, conference received just such an account from Canada. Many have attributed this perhaps to on-demand listening and, for the first time, this theory has been put to the test in Denmark.

    Meanwhile in the UK the largest ever study into radio’s ROI has been conducted drawing on data from more than 500 campaigns. This study quantifies the extent to which advertisers are losing revenue by under-investing in the medium.

    Radio is undergoing significant change around the world. There are many new types of content available (e.g., digital stations, apps), new ways of delivering content (e.g., DAB+, streaming), and listeners now also have multiple device options for accessing their content (e.g., smartphones, tablets). The way we measure the radio industry must keep up with all of this activity: audience measurement cannot afford to stand still. The conference looked at significant developments in meeting these challenges in Australia, the Netherlands, Italy and France.

    From the Czech Republic came an account of the testing for the first time of a new technological development – measurement with audiomatching via smartphones. Results from field tests were shared, together with comparisons with standard TV and radio ratings.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the conference programme

  • 2013 asi European Television Conference

    7th-8th November 2013, Venice, Italy

    Summary by Richard Marks, Research Director, asi

    At this year’s asi European Television Conference, taking place in a tranquil Venice, nearly 300 broadcasters, planners and researchers gathered to debate the future of TV audience measurement.

    The asi seminar has been an annual fixture for over two decades and whilst other events have come and gone, the asi continues to grow and thrive as the highlight of the research calendar for those designing and using TV currencies. So what did I make of it all, both up close on the stage as I introduced and questioned speakers, and from the audience during other sessions?

    Well, as I commented at the event itself, the best analogy I can give for the current state of TV audience measurement is Schroedinger’s Cat. This is a thought experiment that sits at the heart of thinking on quantum physics and the theory of parallel words. A cat is placed in a sealed box with a device that may or may not kill it. So how do we know whether the cat is alive or dead given that we cannot empirically observe its current state inside the box?

    The only solution is for scientists to accept that the cat is simultaneously alive and dead, that two possible outcomes, two different universes, co-exist simultaneously. I won’t delve into the details too much, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory gives an explanation that is more my intellectual level.

    Suffice it to say that it seems that audience measurement is also simultaneously in rude health, innovating to measure across platforms and at death’s door, King Canute about to be drowned by a tidal wave of big data.

    Which outcome ensues will depend very much on the amount of work going on at the moment. Significantly, three of the TV Joint Industry Surveys speaking had tenders under way, all involving the use of data across TV platforms, BARB’s Dovetail fusion initiative in the UK, a similar initiative in The Netherlands and a full tender process in Sweden.

    Across the sessions, if one theme emerged it was the need for hybrid approaches, combining industry data derived from research samples with server and machine-generated data. Big Data has a lot to offer but the trading currencies represent people, not machines and devices, and the conference reflected a growing consensus that hybrid initiatives involving fusion are the way forward to achieve both granularity and cross-platform, cross-device measurement. If Schroedinger’s Cat lives it will be as a cross-breed.

    However, aspiring to doing something and actually doing it are two different things, and to be frank what wasn’t yet evident was the real, actual detail on how this would actually be done in practice. This could be due to reticence related to Intellectual Property considerations or more likely because the thinking is not yet fully developed. The true state of the audience measurement cat’s health will depend on how these lofty aspirations towards hybrid measurement are actually acted upon.

    Compared to past asi conferences, where the relative merits of fixed versus portable meters and of meter panels versus Return Path Data have seen heated debate, an industry consensus is emerging about where television currency research wants to be.

    However, getting there is very much a work in progress. Some important steps forward were in evidence. Throwing caution to the wind, BARB did a successful live demo of the approach they will be using for tablet measurement, whilst ESPN’s Blueprint project in the US is successfully combining PPM, Set Top Box and online panel data. The German currency is being fused with online streaming data and Facebook unveiled a fusion of their social media data with Touchpoints to show campaign reach across TV and Facebook combined.

    However, two of the best-received papers across the conference derived from qualitative ethnographic studies of TV viewing, hugely ironic for what is primarily a quantitative conference.

    The BBC showed how people take decisions about what they choose what to watch and a clear hierarchy can be seen from live channels in the EPG through to VOD as a last resort. It’s a survey well worth tracking down.

    Meanwhile, Best Paper was awarded to ThinkBox. Updates on their Screenlife initiative have been seen on many platforms over the last year or so, but the focus is on what happens when people are denied live television. Respondents (presumably with some financial incentive) tried to survive without live TV for a few days and kept video blogs about it.

    Denied the live experience, rather than diving gleefully into a sea of on-demand content available when they want it, most wandered around like junkies doing cold turkey, lamenting the conversations they could not have with friends and in one extreme case, sat staring at a blank television describing what they were missing.

    As Neil Mortensen put it, on demand is a box of chocolates, but live TV is our daily food.

    So why did these papers do so well? Mainly, I suspect, because currency measurement does have something of an ‘under construction’ sign over it at the moment, with most of the emphasis, understandably, on methodologies rather than outcomes.

    Meanwhile, qualitative research is much more engaging to present, particularly using video and a talking heads format. However ‘qual’ only gets you so far. It helps you to understand what the TV currency is saying, but it is quantitative methods that give that currency a voice in the first place.

    Representatives of the three main global TV Audience Measurement suppliers, Nielsen, Kantar Media and GfK, took part in a panel debating their future, faced by new entrants like comScore and Rentak, and the possibility of disintermediation as clients access Big Data directly.

    What struck me from the resulting discussion is how hard the agencies have to work to create some clear blue water between themselves in a world in which research thinking is converging.

    GfK managed to create some positive vibes within the room by claiming that they are proud to be ‘researchers’ as opposed to ‘Data Investment Managers’. However, that retro vibe may play better with us researchers in the room at the asi than in client boardrooms and on Wall Street.

    Looking at the future of the media research agencies is a project I am currently engaged with, speaking to both clients and agency researchers ahead of a paper I will be delivering at the Media Research Group Conference at BAFTA in November. I hope to summarise it in next month’s column.

    As for the asi Conference, a lot of agreement on a general plan for keeping Schroedinger’s Cat alive, but less concrete detail on the actual steps needed to do it. The signs are good, but the cat maintains its duality of existence as we contemplate a likely future of Black Box solutions.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the conference programme

  • 2013 Tony Twyman Award

    8th November 2013, Venice, Italy

    This year’s Tony Twyman Award for the conference paper that made ‘the best contribution to a greater understanding of the TV medium and its audiences’ was won by Neil Mortensen, Research Director of Thinkbox, for his paper: Screen Life – TV in demand

    The Tony Twyman Award is generously sponsored by

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    Tony Twyman (1932-2014) worked within the media research industry for many years, most recently before he retired operating a consultancy service in media, communications and social research. Tony gained degrees in mathematics and psychology from Cambridge and London Universities and taught experimental psychology at London. During his career he was the Technical Director of BARB and consulted on a number of television industry contracts around the world. He was technical consultant to the independent radio companies for RAJAR. Other consultancies included JICMARS (medical readership). He was formerly a joint managing director of RBL (Research International – London).

    Tony was a highly-respected authority in audience measurement worldwide. He chaired the asi European Radio Conference and the research session of the asi European Television Conference for many years and was a much-valued adviser and friend.

    Click on the button below to download a pdf of the award-winning paper