Video across platforms: do measurement challenges lead to a reporting problem?

Richard Marks gives a summary of the recent 2017 asi APAC Television & Video Conference in Singapore

The international version of the asi Conference over the last 26 years has tended to move around Europe each November:  Budapest last year, Nice later this year. However, the first three APAC asi Conferences have kept Singapore as a base. This is partly to help establish the event before it goes on the road around the region, but is also related to the growing importance of Singapore as a media hub.

A side effect of this ‘residency’ is that comparisons between events are somewhat easier: you become more aware of gradual shifts – rather like noticing changes in a friend you only see once a year.

Certainly in just the two years since the first APAC asi Conference a number of themes are becoming increasingly apparent.

It is clear that online video is co-existing with broadcast and not replacing it, although with the rise of OTT it is less clear how TV and video services will be aggregated and packaged. Meanwhile, in just three APAC Conferences we have seen significant advances in cross-platform video measurement. It is still unclear though whether the same metrics we have used for TV can equally be applied to online video. If we can now measure all video, how do we report it?

Tracking data presented by PwC at the Conference questions a series of assumptions around the future of TV. Consumers are spending more time than ever on video consumption, and television (the medium) is at the heart of this. Yet the way TV is being watched is evolving – with on demand growing at the expense of linear, whilst viewing spreads across to other screens. TV isn’t dead, but it is undergoing disruption and there will be winners and losers.

A panel of speakers from GfK, Nielsen, Kantar Media, BARC India, Workpoint Entertainment and Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB) from Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Singapore discuss cross-platform measurement with Richard Marks.

SVoD certainly seems to be in the ascendancy at the moment, although in the haste of Netflix and Amazon Prime to gain market traction the eventual profitability of their business models remains unproven. GfK’s Viewscape seems to indicate that SVoD complements rather than threatens pay-TV services, perhaps being more of a natural successor to video rental and DVD purchasing than a substitute for linear viewing. This backs up the finding of the SKO presentation which won best paper in Budapest last November.

Arguably, SVoD is contributing towards an increasing globalisation of major TV brands. Social buzz data from Parrot Analytics shows the power of global series like Sherlock, The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory, but also the strength of regional content. Social TV analysts Shareablee highlight the power of Facebook in particular in driving TV conversations. However, as a paper from the BBC World Service outlined, it can be an increasing challenge to actually get the right brand attribution for that content, particularly when it comes to news, with content spreading across platforms and being re-used and re-purposed on social media platforms.

Short-form content on YouTube can get impressive reach, but those ‘billions’ of views are not able to rival global programme brands, formats and sport in terms of duration of total viewing time. Eurodata Worldwide aggregated 2016 viewing data from 92 countries to show a global daily average of exactly 3 hours viewing to TV, down a mere 3 minutes from the year before. That figure is just 2 hours 8 minutes for young adults, which raises the question: will they watch more TV when they get older (although across more devices) or will they maintain their viewing to other forms of video?

Another key point of debate at the Conference: is online video content and advertising essentially an extension of television in terms of how we should measure and report them – or are they different beasts entirely? Our final session in Singapore focused specifically on metrics, but really it was a theme that was referred to throughout both days of the event. It’s a question that has profound implications for the future of the industry – and also for how we actually organise sessions at the asi Conference itself!

George Mao revealed some results of Facebook’s recent research into response to content on different platforms.

Facebook makes a convincing argument that advertisers need to take account of the unique characteristics of online video – which has implications for both execution and for placement, but also for measurement in a world in which every second is vital. Is all online video the same? Data from OzTAM analysed by Milton Data seems to indicate that persistence levels (minimum stream durations) have less impact on the reported viewing levels of catch-up broadcast content, presumably as people are seeking the content out as opposed to trialling it. If short-form video is a ‘taster’ menu, then broadcast and SVoD content may be more of a main meal.

Yahoo7 reported that 30-second ads in catch-up players perform better on ad effectiveness metrics than 15-second ads, but again that is for broadcaster services.  It seems clear that advertisers cannot simply reformat ads for different platforms without taking into account the type of content it accompanies, the screen showing it and the resulting attention of the viewer.  Perhaps we are looking at a Venn diagram – two overlapping circles of broadcast and online, with broadcast catch-up and VOD at the intersection, demonstrating characteristics of both.  This seemed to be acknowledged in BARC India’s planned ‘ekam’ suite of analysis tools, in which broadcast content and ads can be looked at separately from other online video or in combination.

As an industry we also face the challenge of how currency systems will sit within the planning and buying system going forward. Effectively TAM video measurement systems sit at the crossing of two roads, one leading from content to advertising and the other from planning to trading. Bas de Vos has recently moved from running a TAM service with SKO to being a supplier with GfK and posed some important existential questions resulting from the implications of automated planning and trading. It may well be that in the future the industry supplies currencies for offline media, provides planning standards for digital media and cross-media and sets the rules for trading standards. This will certainly have implications for the companies like TechEdge, which delivers the data to people’s desktops each morning.

StarHub’s Germaine Ng Ferguson explained how SmarTAM combines traditional and digital measurement for better audience insights.

Talking of cross-media, a number of papers – from MediaWorks in New Zealand, from Millward Brown in Singapore and Median in the Czech Republic – indicated the benefits of cross-platform reach and that multi-media strategies can make 1+1 = 3. Meanwhile, if audience data is combined with consumer data, as StarHub’s SmarTAM system demonstrates, the power of TV as a medium is amplified.

The conference clearly demonstrated that significant progress is being made in cross-platform currency measurement. The new GfK SGTAM service in Singapore showed integrated data that demonstrates how greatly the online uplift on broadcast audiences varies by lifestage, with Gen Z having 13x as much audience increase as Baby Boomers.  The architectural plans for the new Kantar TAM system in Hong Kong were unveiled and again involve a hybrid approach to bringing together TV and online viewing. However, it was commented that work is needed by all the measurement suppliers to better communicate to clients how these hybrid systems actually work. It is no longer as simple as a meter in the home.

OzTAM’s iPanel – a separate panel used to innovate new techniques before moving them into primetime on the main panel  – certainly puts them in a great position to test enhancements to traditional approaches: what measurement tasks will the general public accept and which are a step too far?

Andrew Li Cheng shared the work CSM Media Research is doing with to design a real-time rating system in China.

This Conference was notable for an increasing geographic coverage of the region. We had delegates from 24 countries and heard for the first time from Japan, where the Nielsen partnership with Video Research was previewed. We learnt that CSM has built a live ratings system for in China and also saw the first fruits of the new Nielsen Digital Content Ratings (DCR) in Thailand.

I am now into my fourth decade in the measurement industry and certainly left Singapore with a spring in my step and got the definite impression that delegates found the two days inspiring as well. The challenges we face are complex and in some cases not yet well defined. There is though a wealth of innovation in the APAC region. Significant progress is being made and whilst the measurement industry is far from future proof, it is certainly ‘future ready’ and prepared for the challenges ahead.

Thanks for a successful event are due to my fellow session chairs, David Webb, Julie Petersen and Partho Dasgupta and to our event sponsors Nielsen and GfK.

See you next year – most probably in Singapore!

The 2018 asi APAC Television & Video Conference will be held on 10th-11th May, venue to be confirmed.

The 2017 asi International Radio & Audio and Television & Video Conferences will be held on 8th-10th November in Nice, France.

For more information on these asi conferences please go to our Conference Programmes page.

Originally posted at asi
23rd May 2017